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People ex rel. A.M.C.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division A

March 13, 2014

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellant, In the Interest of A.M.C., a Child, and Concerning E.M.L. and J.R.C. Respondents.

City and County of Denver Juvenile Court No. 13JV1938 Honorable Donna J. Schmalberger, Judge

David Scott Martinez, City Attorney, Katherine J. MacKenzie, Assistant City Attorney, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellant

Harold Sloan, Guardian Ad Litem Miloud Law Firm, Meegan Miloud, Lakewood, Colorado, for Respondents

OPINION

TAUBMAN JUDGE

¶ 1 In this interlocutory appeal brought under C.A.R. 4.2, petitioner, the Denver Department of Human Services (Department), has filed a petition to appeal an interlocutory order of the trial court pursuant to section 13-4-102.1, C.R.S. 2013. We conclude that the underlying motion for certification was not filed timely in the juvenile court under C.A.R. 4.2(c) because the Department's motion for reconsideration did not toll the time for filing a motion for certification. We further conclude that because the Department has not shown good cause to enlarge the time prescribed in C.A.R. 4.2, the petition must be dismissed.

I. Background

¶ 2 On October 23, 2013, the Department filed a petition in dependency and neglect, asserting that the minor child, A.M.C., was dependent or neglected by respondent parents. At a custody hearing eleven days later before a magistrate, the respondent mother denied the allegations of the petition and requested a jury trial.

¶ 3 On November 5, 2013, the Department disclosed to respondent mother and her attorney that a paralegal employed by the city attorney's human services legal staff was the aunt of the respondent father. Accordingly, even though the father's whereabouts were unknown and he had not participated in this case, the mother asserted to the juvenile court on November 12 that the above circumstance created a conflict of interest. The juvenile court agreed and ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor.

¶ 4 Eight days later, on November 20, the Department filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the relationship between the paralegal and the respondent father was not a disqualifying conflict of interest warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor. The juvenile court orally denied the motion for reconsideration on December 10, concluding that a special prosecutor was necessary to avoid the appearance of impropriety and that an ethical wall would not alleviate the need for disqualification. See generally Colo. RPC 1.10(e) (permitting screening of lawyer from participation in matter in certain circumstances).

¶ 5 Asserting that the juvenile court's decision would improperly deny the Department its choice of counsel if the order requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor stood, the Department filed in the juvenile court a motion for certification of the disqualification order for the purpose of interlocutory appeal. That motion was filed on December 23, 2013, forty-one days after the disqualification order. The juvenile court granted the Department's motion on January 2, 2014, and the Department filed its petition for interlocutory review in this court on January 9, 2014.

¶ 6 Because this court questioned the timeliness of the motion for certification, the division requested that the parties provide briefs addressing this issue.

¶ 7 Following the receipt of a brief from the Department, we now conclude, for the reasons set forth below, that certification of the disqualification order was not timely sought in the juvenile court, and that the Department has not demonstrated good cause to enlarge the time prescribed in C.A.R. 4.2.

II. Discussion

A. Procedural Framework


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