In order to better serve the public, streamline processing, and reduce costs, Colorado Springs Municipal Court has established the use of Referees to expedite certain types of issues and deal with exceptions that may be resolved without a formal court hearing. Municipal Court Referees are appointed by the Presiding Judge to hear a variety of different issues in an informal environment. While the standard burden of proof remains beyond a reasonable doubt, hearings generally occur without attorneys and the rules of evidence are not rigidly enforced.
If you have received a parking ticket and simply want to explain the circumstances, you may walk in and see a Referee during normal business hours. In the interest of justice, Referees have the authority to reduce or modify a parking fine when the circumstances are compelling.
If you were ticketed for driving without auto insurance, you may also walk-in before the scheduled court date and see a Referee in order to show that you had valid proof of insurance for the vehicle in question at the time the ticket was written. The best proof is a certificate of insurance issued by an insurance agency.
The Referee will also ask to see the summons and vehicle registration. The Referee has the authority to dismiss cases if they are satisfied with the sufficiency of the proof of insurance presented. If in doubt, Referees often place calls to insurance agencies to verify the accuracy of the documents presented. A Referee can only handle valid proof of insurance before the court appearance date set on the ticket; otherwise, an appearance in court is required.
If the ticket was issued with another charge, such as speeding, the Referee may not resolve the second charge. They will, however, explain what options are available.
Minor Animal Violations
If you have been charged with failure to inoculate or license your animal and can provide proof of that you are in compliance with either of the charges, the Referee has the authority to dismiss these charges.
Minor Equipment Violations
If you have been charged with a minor equipment violation (cracked windshield or vehicle lighting) and can provide proof of that you are in compliance with either of the charges, the Referee has the authority to dismiss these charges.
In some types of cases, charges that can be heard by a Referee are scheduled for a formal hearing at specific times. These charges include:
- Alleged violations of animal control ordinances
- Citations on vehicles that the City has towed from the roadways
Appeals from the Referees are heard by a Municipal Judge with the case and all testimony being repeated from the very beginning (called de novo). Appeals must be filed in writing in the Violations Bureau within ten days of the Referee hearing.
Vehicle tow hearings are not appealable. Rather, the Referee's action is limited to determining if the police officer had probable cause to have the vehicle towed. The City cannot take away property without due process of law. Probable cause exists if it appeared to the police officer that a valid city ordinance had been violated. The Referee has the authority to order a refund of towing and impound expenses if probable cause is not found. Such hearings are prohibited by ordinance if the City impounded a vehicle for the purposes of using it as evidence (called evidentiary).
Finding a Referee
Referees are located in Room 107 of the Municipal Court building. Their fax number is (719) 385-6437.
Normal business hours are Monday through Friday:
- 9:00 AM to Noon
- 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM