ADOPTION OF LOCAL RULE D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1) AND LAttyR 5(a)-(b) ALLOWING LIMITED REPRESENTATION OF ALL PRO SE PARTIES IN CIVIL ACTIONS
EFFECTIVE December 1, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado permits Limited Representation of all unrepresented parties -- non-prisoners and prisoners -- in civil actions.
Under the court’s local rules – D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2, Standards of Professional Conduct – the U.S. District Court requires attorneys to follow professional ethics rules by adopting and incorporating into the court’s local rules the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, with certain exceptions. One of those exceptions to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct is that the U.S. District Court generally does not permit the Colorado state court practice of allowing limited representation of clients by attorneys, specifically Colo. RPC 1.2(c). However, the U.S. District Court has an additional exclusion to its exception to Colo. RPC 1.2(c), because in December 2014 the court began permitting limited representation of unrepresented prisoners in civil actions. After a trial period of two years, where the Court found that counsel have successfully used this narrow exception to provide limited scope representation of prisoners in civil actions -- to the benefit of the client, counsel, and the court -- the District Court has now broadened the scope of limited representation, to allow such representation for ALL unrepresented parties. The U.S. District Court continues to generally not permit the Colorado state court practice of limited representation unless counsel follow the Court's particular procedural requirements.
Accordingly, counsel should be aware of the procedure set in place by the U.S. District Court, and that it differs from that set by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (C.R.C.P. 11(b) and Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 121 § 1-1(5)). The U.S. District Court requires counsel to follow three procedural steps to successfully enter, practice, and withdraw from a case when acting as counsel on a limited representation basis. Generally, counsel must do the following:
1) File a Motion to Provide Limited Representation that verifies for the client and informs the parties and the Court of a clearly-defined scope of representation, with "reasonable particularity" [whether it be for the drafting of a specific pleading, motion, or other document; appearance at a conference, hearing, trial, or discovery matter; or assisting the client with a settlement conference or other alternative dispute resolution method for a civil action filed in this court; or any other matter where the services of an attorney will assist the pro se party] and that the motion must also certify (not necessarily provide actual documentation) that the pro se party has approved counsel's limited representation;
2) Once the motion is granted, file an Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation document in the case;
3) Once the task, appearance, or service is completed, to file a Motion to Withdraw from the case, showing "good cause" for withdrawal -- i.e., describing the completion of the discrete task. While the filing of a motion -- rather than the Notice of Completion contemplated by the Colorado Rules of Procedure -- may appear to be burdensome for counsel, the submission and corresponding grant of the motion through a court order provides the certainty and finality to counsel and client that the task has been completed and counsel will have no more official ties to the case.
Please note that when filing the Motion to Provide Limited Representation, the attorney will use the Court's CM/ECF system to file the motion, the entry of appearance when granted leave, and the motion to withdraw. The pro se party will continue to receive notices of filings concurrently with the limited representation attorney's receipt of notice during the period of limited representation. This is to provide the pro se party with all filings in the case, in recognition of the fact that the attorney's limited representation task may not be relevant to all activities in the case. After the attorney's withdrawal motion is granted, his CM/ECF noticing will be switched off.
The local rules applicable to limited representation are set forth below, for your convenience:
Local Rule D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1) provides as follows:
D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2 STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
(a) Standards of Professional Conduct. Except as provided by subdivision (b) or order or rule of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (Colo. RPC) are adopted as standards of professional responsibility for the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.
(b) Exceptions. The following provisions of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (Colo. RPC) are excluded from the standards of professional responsibility for the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado:
(1) Colo. RPC 1.2(c) (limiting scope of representation), except that, if ordered, and subject to D.C.COLO.LAttyR 5(a) and (b), an attorney may provide limited representation to an unrepresented party or an unrepresented prisoner in a civil action;
D.C.COLO.LAttyR 5 ENTRY AND WITHDRAWAL OF APPEARANCE AND MAINTENANCE OF CONTACT INFORMATION
(a) Entry of Appearance.
(1) Unless otherwise ordered, an attorney shall not appear in a matter before the court unless the attorney has filed an Entry of Appearance or an Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation or signed and filed a pleading or document.
(2) As permitted under D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1), an attorney may provide limited representation to an unrepresented party or an unrepresented prisoner in a civil action by order granting a motion which defines the scope of limited representation with reasonable particularity and certifies the approval of the unrepresented party or unrepresented prisoner. Any change in the scope of limited representation must be approved by the court.
(3) An Entry of Appearance, Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation, initial pleading, or initial document shall include
(A) the identity of the party for whom the appearance is made;
(B) the firm name, office address, telephone number, and primary CM/ECF e-mail address of the attorney; and
(C) the certification of the attorney that the attorney is a member in good standing of the bar of this court.
(4) A form of Entry of Appearance or Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation is available on the court's website HERE or in the office of the clerk of court.
(5) Only an unrepresented party or a member of the bar of this court as defined in D.C.COLO.LAttyR 3 may appear in a matter before the court, sign and file a pleading or document, or participate in a deposition, hearing, or trial. The provision restricting the signing of a document shall not apply to a witness, deponent, declarant, or affiant.
(6) The responsibility for signing a pleading or document shall not be delegated.
(7) This rule shall not be applied or construed in a manner inconsistent with any statute or rule governing an attorney appearing for the United States.
(b) Withdrawal of Appearance. An attorney who has filed an Entry of Appearance or an Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation or has appeared otherwise in a case may seek to withdraw on motion showing good cause. Withdrawal shall be effective only on court order entered after service of the motion to withdraw on all counsel of record, any unrepresented party, and the client of the withdrawing attorney. A motion to withdraw must state the reasons for withdrawal, unless the statement would violate the rules of professional conduct. Notice to the client of the attorney must include the warning that the client is personally responsible for complying with all court orders and time limitations established by applicable statutes and rules. Where the client of the withdrawing attorney is a corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, the notice shall state that such entity may not appear without counsel admitted to the bar of this court, and that absent prompt appearance of substitute counsel, pleadings and papers may be stricken, and default judgment or other sanctions may be imposed against the entity.
Sample forms for limited representation are available on the District Court's Forms website page under Attorney/Law Student and Civil Pro Bono. Sample forms for pro se parties to request appointment of limited representation by counsel are available under the Self Representation (Pro Se) section of the Forms page.