Placing and Retrieving Money in the Court Registry in Colorado and Denver Courts
Under Colorado Rule of Procedure (“C.R.C.P.”) 67, parties to a lawsuit may deposit money into and retrieve money from the court registry under certain conditions. The court registry is an account that the court has sole authority to distribute funds from and thus, parties need permission from the court to access that account.
Parties to a lawsuit in Colorado and Denver courts may have several reasons for wanting to deposit money into the court registry during litigation, including, as an example, a situation where a party may potentially owe money to a multitude of plaintiffs and instead of fighting the lawsuit, the party simply deposits the total amount of money owed into the court registry so that the plaintiffs can fight out how much of the money each is entitled to. In this way, the party that deposited the money can simply avoid the cost of litigating the lawsuit, instead opting to deposit the money with the court and let the people laying claim to the money fight it out. This type of situation may occur where an insurance company determines it is cheaper to pay out the total money owed rather than fight the lawsuit and accrue costs through litigation; accordingly, the insurance company deposits that money into the registry and then requests that the court dismiss it from the lawsuit.
Another example of when a party may be ordered to pay money into the registry by order of the court. For example, in eviction cases in Denver and Colorado if the defendant, i.e., the party against whom the eviction is sought, claims that the premises being rented were not habitable and withheld rent on that basis, the court may order the defendant to deposit all or part of the amount owed into the court registry before the case is allowed to proceed. Other ways a party may end up depositing money into the court registry is where the court indicates a party may pay money into the registry to satisfy a judgment, where a party is ordered to pay a bond if the case is being appealed to ensure the money will be available when the appeal is decided, and to stop the accrual of interest on a judgment if the other party refuses to accept payment.
When money is deposited into the court registry, under C.R.C.P. 67 withdrawal of money from the registry may only occur upon order of the court. Accordingly, court approval is needed for any party to withdraw money from the court registry. In practice, all a party needs to do in order to request money from the court registry is to file a motion with the court. Other parties will have a chance to respond to that motion if they oppose the distribution of the money to that party. The court will then have to decide whether it is appropriate or not to order dispersal from the registry.
From a procedural perspective, motions to either place money into the court registry or withdraw money from the court registry are seen as collateral post-judgment proceedings that do not challenge the underlying judgment. More specifically, they are seen as motions that deal with enforcement of that judgment, i.e., how the judgment money is to be collected and distributed as opposed what the judgment actually is. See Coors Brewing Co. v. City of Golden, 2013 COA 92, ¶ 61. Accordingly, because motions pertaining to the court registry are not motions seeking to challenge the underlying judgment, they do not fall in the category of traditional post-judgment motions that seek to change or grant a party relief from the underlying judgment and are not bound by the time requirements for filing those types of motions, generally 63 days after trial. Motions pertaining to the registry can be made outside of this time frame.
Further, because motions pertaining to the registry are proceedings collateral to the judgment, the trial court retains jurisdiction over them. This means that, if a court’s decision with respect to registry motions is appealed, that appeal does not have to be brought at the same time as an appeal requesting relief from the underlying judgment. Put in other words, appeals for motions pertaining to the court registry can be brought separately from appeals requesting relief from the underlying judgment.