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.
Referees may resolve some issues simply on a walk-in basis. These include parking tickets and proof of compulsory insurance. Those who have received a parking ticket and simply want to explain the circumstances 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. Referees are located in Room 107 of the municipal court building. Normal business hours are: 09:00 am till Noon, and then again from 1:00 P.M. till 4:00 P.M., Monday – Friday. Their fax number is: (719) 385-6437.
Those who were ticketed for driving without compulsory insurance may also walk-in before the scheduled court date and see a court referee to show they had valid proof that they were insured 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 a compulsory insurance charge in cases where the referee is satisfied with the sufficiency of the proof 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. The referee will, however, explain what options are available.
Other charges heard by court referees are scheduled for hearing at specific times. Such hearings are held in the Division R courtroom, located in Room 340 of the municipal court building. These charges include alleged violations of animal control ordinances and probable cause hearings on vehicles that the City has towed from the roadways. Animal control violations may be scheduled in front of the referee by clerks in the Violations Bureau and may also be set in front of a referee by order of a municipal judge at first appearance. Witnesses are expected to testify at such hearings, and may be placed under subpoena to attend the hearings.
You may download the form by clicking on: Subpoena Request and bring it to the Violations Bureau, Room 108, or fax your request on the proper form to the Violations Bureau at (719) 385-6190.
Appeals from the court referees are heard de novo before a municipal judge – that is to say that the case is heard all over again, in its entirety. Appeals must be filed in writing in the Violations Bureau within ten days of the referee hearing.
Vehicle tow hearings are not appealable from the court referee. Rather, the referee's action is a limited scope due process hearing held only to determine 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 evidentiary purposes.