City municipal court; one year strong
by Linda Nuzum
The Castle Pines North Municipal Court is now a year old. Last month, city council reviewed first year of operations and explored the potential for adding other types of cases for the court.
To date, the court has focused solely on traffic citations. It now offers online payment of tickets, and offers night court once a month for those who wish to take the citation to trial. A total of 171 tickets were issued from January through October, 2010.
The revenue from traffic tickets is approximately $16,000, slightly more than the expense of staffing the court, which includes part-time contracts with a judge, prosecutor, and court clerk. The first year of operation, the court also had approximately $8,000 in startup expenses such as software costs, which will be capitalized.
City officials emphasized that their goal is for the court to be revenue-neutral, and that the city’s objectives include providing justice and encouraging public safety.
Douglas County Sheriff Lieutenant Troy McCarty, who has overseen traffic enforcement in the city, reinforced that this is the direction that the Sheriff’s office has received from the city. He noted that the Sheriff’s office conducts periodic scheduled enforcement on the major thoroughfares, and other streets are handled primarily based on citizen reports of safety issues. McCarty cited recent patrolling for speeding concerns on Serena Drive near Coyote Ridge Park, which resulted in a number of tickets (primarily to local residents), as an example of enforcement that is intended to educate drivers about safety issues.
City council member Tera Radloff raised questions on behalf of citizens who have questioned the need for a city court. City officials noted that state statutes require the city to have a municipal court, and while it would have been possible to contract with another city to perform this function, there are many advantages to have its own court, including convenience for the citizens, and the ability of the city to have control over the court’s policies. Officials concluded that since revenues are covering operating costs and startup costs have already been paid, it makes sense to continue operating the cour.t
In the future, the court could handle some additional types of cases. While no decisions have been made, city officials note that the community could benefit from the court powers to enforce zoning code violations such as unsightly weeds, and the court could also take local jurisdiction over issues such as parking and misdemeanor offenses within the current staffing model.
Other possible additions, such as taking on responsibility for juvenile or animal cases, would likely require additional resources to handle. City council will consider these options in the futur