Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Levy's Judges Bill Becomes Law

A bill that would prohibit state trial judges from hearing cases to which current or former colleagues on the bench are parties was signed into law this week.

HB 1193 was signed by Gov. Bill Ritter Monday.

The measure was inspired by a controversy surrounding an adverse possession case in Boulder County. The district judge hearing the case, which involved a land dispute between a former member of the same court and his wife and their neighbors, did not recuse himself.

Under the new law, which takes effect in August, either party to a lawsuit can request the judge to recuse himself or herself if the opposing party is a current or former member of the same court. The judge would have to grant the request and the state supreme court would appoint a judge from another district to hear the case.

Sponsor Claire Levy, D-Boulder, said she introduced the measure after the land dispute involving former Boulder County judge Richard McLean caused some observers to question whether Judge James C. Klein should have refused to hear the case.

McLean, who also served as Boulder mayor, sat on the district court in Boulder County for 15 years.

Another measure, aimed at toughening requirements to obtain title to land under the centuries-old adverse possession doctrine, awaits Ritter's signature.