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1st Judicial District Competency Court announces inaugural docket

Monday, January 29, 2024

GOLDEN, Colo. – The 1st Judicial District (Gilpin and Jefferson counties) announced today it will hold the inaugural docket for its new Competency Court, a program designed to help address the growing number of defendants in need of competency-restoration services before their cases can move forward.

About five defendants are expected to appear for the launch of the Competency Court at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2024.

“Our goal is to use community-based services to decrease the time needed to restore defendants to competency, thus minimizing delays in moving these cases forward while also reducing recidivism for those who are dealing with substance use and/or behavioral health challenges,” said Judge Russell Klein, who will preside over the docket.

When defendants in Colorado have been found incompetent to proceed, their case is stayed pending restoration, which can occur either on an inpatient basis at a state hospital, or on an outpatient basis if the defendant is not in custody. Some in-custody defendants have had to wait up to a year or longer before inpatient space becomes available for restoration services.

The competency court will determine, on an individualized basis, if community-based resources and restoration services could be employed through a collaborative model under the supervision and direction of the Competency Court, similar to programs at competency courts in several other Colorado jurisdictions that started within the past several years. Community partners in the 1st Judicial District include the Jefferson Center and Community Connections Center.

Admission to the Competency Court will be limited to those charged with lower-level felonies who are not determined to be a danger to themselves or others. Other defendants who have not been charged with a crime of violence may be accepted with approval of the District Attorney’s Office and defense counsel. For those accepted into the program, staff and community partners will work to develop a plan to meet each defendant’s needs to ensure the stability necessary to receive outpatient restoration services while working to maintain community safety. Defendants in the program will have regular check-ins with the Competency Court to ensure their compliance.

Once program participants are found competent to proceed, they will be transferred back to the court to which their case was originally assigned.

After the first docket on Jan. 31, Competency Court dockets will take place every other Wednesday.

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