The Colorado Supreme Court sided with the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, ruling on Feb. 27 that Colorado courts cannot force a district attorney’s office to participate in mediation.
A Pueblo trial court had previously ordered the Pueblo County DA’s office to participate in mediation with attorneys representing James Justice, who faces a wide range of criminal charges including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, use of explosives or incendiary devices, and several others in four separate court cases, according to a case opinion authored by Justice Carlos Samour of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Justice was on bond and contemplating a previous plea agreement that would apply to all three cases when he was arrested on the charges that encompass the fourth case, according to the opinion.
After charges were filed, the DA’s office offered a modified plea agreement less favorable to the defendant, according to Samour, which was then rejected by Justice.
Justice’s family hired private counsel to represent him in one of the four cases, although the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office continued to represent him in the other three.
Because the DA refused to offer a “more lenient” plea agreement, Justice’s private counsel filed a motion seeking compulsory mediation in all four cases. In the motion, the attorney argued that there were a “a number of serious charges,” some of which carried mandatory prison sentences, and that “mediation would create the opportunityfor all parties to have a frank exchange regarding their various position[s] and allow an objective person to give input on possible ways those positions might be reconciled.”
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NOTE: The following article is excerpted from Elizabeth Bader’s forthcoming article in the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal. It has been extensively edited for this purpose. For the full article,...By Elizabeth Bader