A ruling Tuesday in the high-profile fight involving Colorado's welfare computer system.
District Judge John Coughlin of Denver says the state must slash a backlog of cases on hold by 40 percent. He says it must be done by the beginning of March.
The judge says the state must also set up an emergency system to process applications for the needy.
The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. The organization blames the new $200 million state computer system for keeping food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits from the needy.
The judge says no blame lies with the counties or their workers.