The Criminal Appeals Section of the Attorney General’s Office is Colorado’s prosecutorial authority at the appellate level of the criminal justice system. Section attorneys represent law enforcement interests when defendants challenge their felony convictions in the Colorado and federal appellate courts.
Hundreds of prosecutors do felony trial work in the state’s district courts; the Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Section has 34 attorneys supported by four administrative staff members to respond to all of the defense appeals generated by those cases. Cases range from relatively minor sentencing and post-conviction appeals to complicated white collar crime, homicide, child abuse, sexual assault, and death penalty litigation.
The section must provide effective and ethical representation in all cases. In each case, the attorney must read the trial transcript and other pertinent documents, conduct legal research on each of the defendant’s claims, and write an argument explaining why law enforcement should prevail. While a majority of the cases impact only the defendants and the victims directly involved, any given case may result in new published law that has a significant impact on law enforcement procedures; on procedures for criminal trials and sentencing hearings throughout the state; on the state’s Department of Corrections; or on probation, parole, and county community corrections programs.
In addition to their appellate litigation, Criminal Appeals Section attorneys share their expertise in criminal law and appellate issues with the state’s prosecutors and other audiences through informal advice, presentations at meetings and training sessions, and weekly case law updates to the Colorado District Attorneys Council (CDAC). Representatives from the Criminal Appeals Section serve on two committees of the Colorado Supreme Court: the Appellate Rules Committee, and the Criminal Rules Committee. An attorney from the Criminal Appeals Section also serves on the Appellate Practice Subcommittee of the Colorado Bar Association (CBA).