Jan 19 2011
The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases on
January 20, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law before an audience of students. One was a water rights case.
The visit is part of an emphasis by the Colorado Judicial Branch on public outreach and education, and an extension of the 25-year-old Courts in the Community program, in which the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals visit high schools around Colorado to hear arguments in actual cases.
“I think all of us on the bench believe trust and confidence in our court system depends very much on public understanding of what the courts do every day, and how they do it,” said Chief Justice Michael L. Bender. “Getting the appellate courts out in the community for a real hearing like this is not only a breath of fresh air for us, it helps further that goal. It introduces more of Colorado’s residents to the people behind the bench in their courts, and helps them learn more about what we do and what the rule of law means to us in our daily jobs.”
These are not mock proceedings, they are oral arguments in actual cases.
All seven justices hear cases together.
The water case is 09SA133, Concerning the application for Water Rights by Burlington Ditch, Reservoir & Land Co., et al.: This appeal primarily involves a change of direct flow and storage water rights decreed in 1885 to the Burlington Ditch, Reservoir and Land Company.
The water court’s judgment and decree quantified the historic consumptive use credits for direct flow and storage rights attributable to Burlington shares. In order to protect against injury to other water rights, the water court disallowed consumptive use credits for what it found to be an illegal enlargement of Burlington direct flow water rights subsequent to 1885. The water court also limited the change of storage rights to the amount of water historically released for agricultural use, and it disallowed consumptive use credit for capture of water by the Barr Lake toe drains and for seepage into canals. In addition, the water court disallowed consumptive use credit for diversions made through the Metro Pumps, which the court found to be an undecreed point of diversion. Relying on prior decrees and the one-fill rule for storage rights, the applicants contest these and other
determinations of fact and law as well as decree conditions that the water court entered.