Of the five cases that came before Paonia Municipal Court Judge Bradley Kolman on Nov. 12, two of the defendants were no-shows. One had a good excuse: he was in jail on a town warrant after an earlier failure to appear on shoplifting charges.
That's how court began for Judge Kolman, who has served as Paonia's judge for about 20 years. Kolman also served as Delta County attorney from 1990 to 2011. Prior to 1990 he performed contract work for the Health and Human Services Department.
Last week's session was Kolman's second this year, not because citations aren't being issued. Read the Paonia Police Department's semi-monthly blotter posted to the town website and you'll see the department is very busy. Most of those on the receiving end of a citation pay the fines, and some choose to come before Judge Kolman, who has the power to impose a maximum fine of $1,000, a prison sentence of no more than one year, or both. If defendants disagree with his final decision, they can appeal to the Delta District Court.
If how Kolman handled his cases last week is any indication, people charged with an offence of town ordinances and wind up in court are treated fairly. And he has a sense of humor. When a defendant's cell phone went off, twice, he requested that the caller be informed that the judge is unavailable.
Going through the docket, Kolman dismissed charges against a female after her alleged victim was uncooperative. Kolman politely asked the defendant if she had any problems with that, to which she politely replied no, then thanked the judge and left.
In a case involving keeping of junk, the defendant was cooperating with the Paonia Police Department, said Investigator Neil Ferguson. The individual has made significant improvements on her property, and Ferguson requested she be given another 30 days to bring her property into compliance with town code.
In another case, a male driver was going 31 mph in a 20-mph zone and failed to present proof of insurance when stopped by Officer Taffine Patterson. After pleading guilty to both charges, and in the absence of any prior legal history, Judge Kolman reduced his speeding charge and loss of four points off his driver's license to 29 mph in a 20-mph zone and the associated one point off of his license. The defendant didn't bring a paper copy of his proof of insurance, but Judge Kolman accepted an email from the insurance company after reviewing it on the defendant's phone.
These tickets aren't cheap. The driver was ordered to pay $242 -- $90 for speeding ($10 for every mile per hour over the speed limit), plus a $27 surcharge, $200 for failure to produce proof of insurance, $100 suspended on condition of no further speeding infractions, and a $25 court cost.
"Hopefully we won't see you again here," said Kolman.
As for the other failure to appear, he will likely appear at a later date. Prior to ending the session, a warrant was issued for his arrest.