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Article V - Municipal Court

5.1 Municipal Court Created
(a) There shall be a Municipal Court, which shall be a qualified municipal court of record as provided by law, to hear and try all alleged violations of ordinances of the City and shall have such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by law. Sentence and fine limitations shall be established by ordinance. All fines and costs collected by the Municipal Court shall be reported and paid to the City Treasurer for deposit in the General Fund of the City.

(b) The City Council shall furnish the Municipal Court with suitable courtroom facilities and funds for the proper conduct of the business of the Municipal Court.


5.2 Municipal Judges
(a) The number of full time and part time municipal judges shall be established by ordinance.

(b) In the event the City Council finds there exists a substantial reduction in the work load of the Municipal Court, the number of full-time or part-time municipal judges may be reduced by ordinance.

(1) Such ordinance shall identify each full-time or part-time municipal judge whose position is to be eliminated. Such ordinance shall also provide that the municipal judge position to be eliminated shall be that of an incumbent judge who has served the least time in office as a municipal judge in the Municipal Court of the City.

(2) In no event shall a position of municipal judge be eliminated prior to the expiration of six months from the effective date of such ordinance.

(c) At no time after the elimination of a position of a municipal judge under the provisions of this section shall the number of municipal judges be increased unless and until the City Council finds there exists a substantial increase in the work load of the Municipal Court.

(d) In the event that more than one full-time municipal judge is appointed, the City Council shall designate a Presiding Municipal Judge, who shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council. All other full-time municipal judges shall be designated as Municipal Judges. Part-time judges of the Municipal Court shall be designated as Associate Judges. A judge serving in the Municipal Court for limited or special purposes on a temporary basis, as determined by the Presiding Municipal Judge, shall be designated as Special Judge.

(e) All judges appointed to serve in the Municipal Court shall be licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado. All such judges shall have been licensed to practice law for not less than five years at the time of appointment. (Amended November 2, 1999.)


5.3 Judicial Nominating Committee
(a) For each appointment of a Municipal Judge, except an Associate Judge or a Special Judge, made hereafter to the Municipal Court, there shall be appointed by the City Council an ad hoc judicial nominating committee consisting of three registered electors of the City who are not attorneys-at-law, a designee of the president of the local bar association, provided such designee has been an attorney-at-law for at least five years and either resides or practices law within the corporate boundaries of the City, and the chief judge of the judicial district in which the City is located or a designee thereof who is a member of the state judiciary of the judicial district in which the City is located.

(b) Each judicial nominating committee shall establish procedures for recruiting, interviewing, and referring nominees to the City Council.

(c) A judicial nominating committee shall recommend and refer the names of not more than three qualified nominees for each vacancy on the Municipal Court, except for Associate Judges. Upon receipt of a name or names from the judicial nominating committee, the City Council shall appoint a nominee to serve an initial term on the Municipal Court. (Amended November 2, 1999.)


5.4 Retention of Judges
(a) Upon appointment by the City Council, each judge, except Associate Judges and Special Judges, shall serve an initial term of office of not less than one year, after which the names of such judge shall be placed on the ballot at a regular municipal election. In order that the name of a judge be placed on the ballot, such judge shall file a written declaration with the City Clerk of intent to serve another term prior to ninety days before such regular municipal election.

(b) Upon filing such declaration, a question shall be placed on the regular municipal election ballot as follows: "Shall Judge ... of the City of Lakewood Municipal Court be retained in office? Yes . No ." If a majority of those voting on the question vote "No," then a vacancy on the Municipal Court shall exist and such judge shall be removed from office. (Amended November 2, 1999.)


5.5 Terms of Office
(a) An initial term of office for each judge, except Associate Judges or Special Judges, shall be not less than one year, and thereafter, until the next regular municipal election. A full term of office for each judge of the Municipal Court, except Associate Judges or Special Judges, shall be four years.

(b) For each judge retained in office by a majority vote after a regular municipal election, said judge shall serve a four year term, after which the name of such judge shall again be placed on the ballot at a regular municipal election. There shall be no limit on the number of full terms that a judge may serve. (Amended November 2, 1999.)

5.6 Associate Judges, Special Judges and Court Referees
The Presiding Judge shall have authority to appoint Associate Judges, Special Judges and Court Referees as such may be authorized by ordinance, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Presiding Municipal Judge. Compensation for Associate Judges, Special Judges, and for Court Referees shall be established by ordinance. (Amended November 2, 1999.)

5.7 Acting Municipal Judges
In the event of a vacancy in the office of a municipal judge, the City Council may appoint an Acting Municipal Judge for a temporary term, which shall expire upon appointment of a qualified nominee recommended by the judicial nominating committee. Any Acting Municipal Judge shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council.

5.8 Compensation of Municipal Judges
(a) The City Council shall establish the compensation of all judges of the Municipal Court by ordinance.

(b) Each full-time Municipal Judge shall receive compensation as fixed by City Council, which shall not be reduced during a term of office of such judge, except as hereinafter provided. The compensation of the Presiding Municipal Judge may be reduced to that of a Municipal Judge by the City Council should the City Council designate another full-time Municipal Judge to perform the duties and responsibilities of the Presiding Municipal Judge.

(c) In the event of a general salary decrease for employees of the City and if such salary decrease includes the compensation of the City Manager, City Attorney, and department heads of the City, the City Council may reduce the compensation of all judges by an amount equal to the average reduction for the City Manager, City Attorney, and department heads of the City. (Amended November 2, 1999.)


5.9 Judicial Review Commission
(a) There is hereby established a Judicial Review Commission, which shall consist of three registered electors of the City who are not attorneys at law, a designee of the president of the local bar association, provided such designee has been an attorney at law for at least five years and either resides or practices law within the corporate boundaries of the City, and the chief judge of the judicial district or a designee thereof who is a member of the judiciary of the judicial district in which the City is located. The membership and terms thereof shall be established by the City Council.

(b) The Judicial Review Commission shall have authority to investigate all complaints against judges of the Municipal Court and to recommend to City Council, after hearing before the Judicial Review Commission, the removal of any judge for cause. Such hearings shall be closed to the public and all records privileged, except as to the City Council.

(c) The Judicial Review Commission shall prepare findings following a hearing and may recommend that a judge of the Municipal Court be removed from office. The City Council, after review of the record and findings, may remove a judge from the Municipal Court by a majority vote of all members of the City Council.

(d) The City Council may establish by ordinance such supplemental procedures as are necessary and not in conflict with the provisions of this section.


5.10 Court Administration
(a) The Presiding Municipal Judge shall appoint a Court Administrator, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Presiding Municipal Judge and who shall be the chief administrative officer of the Municipal Court.

(b) All employees of the Municipal Court, except as otherwise provided in this Charter, shall be subject to the personnel merit system. The Presiding Municipal Judge shall have the power and authority to appoint, promote, suspend, transfer, and remove employees of the Municipal Court subject to the provisions of the personnel merit system.


5.11 Transition of Part-Time Municipal Judges
The Municipal Judges (part-time) in office on the effective date of this Charter Amendment shall continue to serve and carry out the functions, powers and duties of their respective offices until their terms expire and their successors are appointed. Thereafter, the associates Judges positions are appointive pursuant to the Charter. (Amended November 2, 1999.)