April 16, 2014

Judges Appointed for Fifth Judicial District Court and Conejos County Court Benches

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper announced appointments to the benches of the Conejos County Court and the Fifth Judicial District Court.

Susan Broyles was appointed as county court judge in Conejos County, effective immediately. She will replace Hon. Mary Garcia, who resigned earlier this year. Ms. Broyles currently assists pro bono clients with various matters, including collections, torts, business matters, traffic infractions, and more. Prior to that, she taught reading and writing to disadvantaged children at an inner city school for ten years. She also worked as a Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Department of Corrections, and was a non-attorney county court judge in Conejos County before receiving her J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Paul Dunkelman was appointed as district court judge for the Fifth Judicial District, effective November 30, 2013. His appointment is occasioned by the retirement of Hon. R. Thomas Moorhead. Mr. Dunkelman is currently a partner at Carlson, Carlson & Dunkelman, LLC, where he practices family, criminal, civil, and business law. He is also an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College and a prosecuting attorney for the Town of Leadville. Previously, he clerked in the Second Judicial District for Hon. Lynne Hufnagel and Hon. Paul Markson, Jr. He received his J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Mark D. Thompson Appointed Chief Judge of Fifth Judicial District Upon Retirement of R. Thomas Moorhead

On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, Chief Justice Michael Bender appointed Mark D. Thompson as the Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial District. Judge Thompson will replace Hon. R. Thomas Moorhead, who will retire effective December 1, 2013.

Judge Moorhead has been the Chief Judge since 2010. He was appointed to the Fifth Judicial District Court bench in 2002, and prior to that he was the Eagle County Attorney. He was the town attorney for the Town of Vail from 1993 to 2001, and also spent a great deal of his career in Ohio. He received his J.D. from Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1975.

Judge Thompson was appointed to the Fifth Judicial District Court bench in 2010. He is a graduate of the University of Denver School of Law, and was partner at a Denver firm before moving to the mountains and joining the Breckenridge firm of French, West & Brown, where he became partner in 1999.

For more information about the appointments, click here.

Appointments to Lake County Court Bench and Twentieth Judicial District Court Bench Announced

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia appointed Jonathan Shamis to the bench of the Lake County Court. He will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Hon. Dewey Wayne Patton to the district court bench of the Fifth Judicial District. The appointment is effective August 29, 2013.

Currently, Mr. Shamis is the Executive Director of Alpine Legal Services, where he practices in several areas of the law, including collections, real estate, family law, protection orders, and criminal. Prior to his work at Alpine Legal Services, Mr. Shamis was a partner at Fahrenholtz, Kleinschmidt, Stephens and Shamis. He also worked in the Cook County public defender’s office in Chicago, Illinois.

Additionally, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Andrew Hartman to fill a vacancy on the Twentieth Judicial District Court bench in Boulder County. The vacancy will be created with the retirement of Hon. Roxanne Bailin, effective August 31, 2013.

Mr. Hartman is currently an adjunct professor of law and the Director of Experiential Education at the University of Colorado Law School. He is also a partner at Gross Hartman LLC, where he practices in the areas of intellectual property law, advertising licensing, and litigation counseling. Prior to his work at CU and Gross Hartman, Mr. Hartman was general counsel for Keen Inc. and was a partner at Cooley LLP and Reed Smith.

New District Court Judgeships Created in Fifth and Ninth Judicial Districts

Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB 13-1035 on March 8, 2013, which created one additional district court judgeship in the Fifth and Ninth Judicial Districts. The bill is effective July 1, 2013.

The Ninth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet on May 17, 2013, to interview and select nominees for the vacancy. Nominees must be qualified electors of the Ninth Judicial District and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado for five years.

The Fifth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet on May 20, 2013, to interview and select nominees. To be eligible, nominees must be qualified electors of the Fifth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years.

Application forms for these judgeships are available on the Colorado State Judicial Branch website. Instructions for completing and submitting the application for the Fifth Judicial District judgeship are available here. For instructions for the Ninth Judicial District applications, click here.

New Self-Help Centers Open for Pro Se Litigants in Sixth and Twenty-Second Judicial Districts

On Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the opening of self-help centers for pro se litigants in the Sixth and Twenty-Second Judicial Districts. The centers are in Durango and Cortez and are available for civil litigants.

The centers are part of the Judicial Branch’s program to address the need to provide legal services to people who cannot afford attorneys but have too many assets to qualify for legal aid. The centers are intended to ease the strain on court personnel who must spend time assisting pro se litigants.

Office hours for the Durango center are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hours for the Cortez center are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information on the self- help centers, click here.

HB 13-1035: Increasing the Number of Judges in the Fifth and Ninth Judicial Districts

On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Gail Schwartz introduced HB 13-1035 - Concerning an Increase in the Number of Judges in Certain Judicial Districts.  This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill increases the number of judges in the 5th judicial district from five to six and in the 9th judicial district from four to five. On Feb. 1, the Appropriations Committee amended the bill and sent it to the floor of the House for consideration on 2nd Reading.

Since this summary, the bill passed Second Reading in the House with amendments.

Governor Hickenlooper Announces Appointments to Several Judicial Nominating Commissions

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, Governor Hickenlooper announced appointments to the judicial nominating commissions for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Eighteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-Second judicial districts.

Each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts has a nominating commission that selects nominees for appointment to judicial vacancies. The nominating commissions are comprised of  seven citizens residing in that judicial district. No more than four members can be from the same political party, and there must be at least one voting member from each county in the district. The members serve six-year terms.

For a complete list of the appointed members and information regarding their residence, affiliation, and the duration of their terms, click here or visit the governor’s website. Information about the judicial nominating commissions and an application for consideration for appointment may be found here.

Governor Hickenlooper Appoints More to Judicial Nominating Commissions

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper announced several Board and Commission appointments. The appointments were to the Second, Fifth, Sixth, Twelfth, and Twenty-First Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commissions.

Colorado’s twenty-two judicial districts have judicial district nominating commissions that select nominees for district and county judicial vacancies. Each district nominating commission is chaired by a justice of the Supreme Court, who is a non-voting member of the commission.

Commission members serve six-year terms. Non-lawyers, who are the majority of every nominating commission, are appointed by the governor. Lawyer members are appointed by joint action of the governor, attorney general, and chief justice.

The members appointed to the Second Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for terms expiring December 31, 2017, are:

  • Larry Allen Nelsen of Denver, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Republican from Denver County.
  • Andrew Dean Schneider of Denver, to serve as a non-attorney and as an Unaffiliated from Denver County.

The members appointed to the Fifth Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for terms expiring December 31, 2017, are:

  • Gregory V. Johnson of Edwards, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Republican from Eagle County.
  • Heather N. Scanlon of Leadville, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Democrat from Lake County.

The member appointed to the Sixth Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for a term expiring December 31, 2017, is:

  • Stephen C. Fearn of Silverton, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Democrat from San Juan County.

The member appointed to the Twelfth Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for a term expiring December 31, 2017, is:

  • Marvin K. “Zeke” Ward of Creede, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Republican from Mineral County.

The members appointed to the Twenty-First Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for terms expiring December 31, 2017, are:

  • Ivan Daniel Geer of Grand Junction, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Republican from Mesa County.
  • Beverly Jean Sewell of Grand Junction, to serve as a non-attorney and as a Republican from Mesa County.

Colorado Courts Celebrate National Adoption Day

National Adoption Day will be celebrated in many of Colorado’s Judicial Districts between Thursday, November 17 and Monday, November 21, 2011, with judges and magistrates throughout Colorado finalizing the adoption of more than 100 foster children into permanent families. Colorado is currently home to 365 children waiting for permanent families.

“Adoption Day is always a special day in Colorado’s courts,” said Chief Justice Michael L. Bender. “I am pleased to see many of our courts taking the opportunity to recognize National Adoption Day on a local level. However, this is but one day out of the year and we must remain focused on the fact that there are still many children in need of good homes.”

Adoption Day events in Colorado are being coordinated through the courts, state and local human services departments, as well as other local and state child agencies and advocacy groups.

Here’s a rundown of Adoption Day activities going on around Colorado:

  • First Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin counties)
  • Saturday, November 19, 2011, from 9:00 to 11:00 am at the Jefferson County Combined Court (100 Jefferson Parkway, Golden, CO 80401).
  • District Court Judges Margie Enquist, Tamara Russell and Ann Meinster will finalize 18 adoptions for 12 families.  Colorado Supreme Court Justice-designate Brian Boatright (currently a First Judicial District Court Judge) will be in attendance. For more information contact Kris Kinzli at (303) 271-4601 or Mallory Hyatt at (303) 271-4389 with Jefferson County Human Services.
  • Second Judicial District (Denver County)
  • Friday, November 18, 2011, from 8:45 am to noon at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse (520 W. Colfax, Denver, CO 80204).
  • Denver Juvenile Court Judges Donna Schmalberger and D. Brett Woods will join Juvenile Magistrates Howard Bartlett and Melanie Gilbert, along with Denver District Court Judges Morris Hoffman and Herbert Stern to unite 51 children with 33 families. For more information contact Barbara Bosley, Family Court Facilitator, Denver Juvenile Court, (720) 337-0584.  This is the seventh annual celebration of National Adoption Day in Denver.
  • Speakers at the event will include Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Chief Judge Karen Ashby (Denver Juvenile Court), Penny May (Denver Department of Human Services), and Marne Gulley (adoptive parent).
  • Speakers will make their remarks in the Cisneros Jury Assembly Room.  Adoption proceedings will take place from 10:00 am to noon in courtrooms 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F and 2H. Judge Ashby has entered an order allowing Expanded Media Coverage; cameras are welcome.
  • Third Judicial District (Huerfano and Las Animas counties)
  • While no adoption proceedings are scheduled, District Court Judge Leslie Gerbracht reports that the Court will host a reception on Monday, November 21, 2011, at 2:30 pm for families who have adopted in the past. The reception will be held in the District Court Courtroom at the Las Animas County Courthouse (200 E. 1st St., Trinidad, CO 81082). For more information contact Arlene Lopez, DHS Child Protection Unit Supervisor, at (719) 846-2276.
  • Fifth Judicial District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties)
  • On Friday, November 18, 2011, from 1:30 to 4:30 pm, District Court Judge Russell Granger will preside over the adoption of five children into four families. The proceedings will take place at the Clear Creek County Courthouse (405 Argentine, Georgetown, CO 80444). For more information contact Kimberlee Hill, Clerk of Court, at (303) 679-4220.
  • Tenth Judicial District (Pueblo County)
  • On Friday, November 18, 2011, beginning at 9:30 am in Division B, District Court Judge Larry Schwartz will preside over the adoption docket. Nine children are slated to be adopted into seven families. For more information contact Karen Hiraki, Pueblo Department of Human Services, at (719) 583-4716.
  • Eleventh Judicial District (Chaffee, Custer, Fremont and Park counties)
  • On Thursday, November 17, 2011, Chief District Court Judge Charles Barton will finalize the adoptions of five children into four families. The adoption proceedings will begin at 1:30 pm at the Fremont County Justice Center (136 Justice Center Road, Canon City, CO 81212). For more information contact Nancy Myers, Fremont County DHS, at (719) 269-2092.
  • Seventeenth Judicial District (Adams and Broomfield counties)
  • On Saturday, November 19, 2011, from 9 am to noon, 23 children will be united with permanent families. The proceedings will take place at the Adams County Justice Center (1100 Judicial Center Drive, Brighton, CO 80601). District Court Judges Mark Warner and Francis Wasserman will join Magistrates Greg Beacom and Peter Stapp in presiding over the docket. For more information contact Jennifer Mendoza, Juvenile Court Programs Coordinator, at (303) 654-3230.
  • Nineteenth Judicial District (Weld County)
  • On Friday, November 18, 2011, from 1 to 5 pm, District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow will preside over 11 adoptions and Magistrate Randall Lococo will preside over one adoption. Adoption proceedings will take place at the Weld County Courthouse (901 9th Ave. Greeley, CO 80631). For more information call Judge Kopcow’s chambers at (970) 351-7300 ext. 5490.
  • Twenty-first Judicial District (Mesa County)
  • On Friday, November 18, 2011, from 8 am to 1:30 pm, District Court Judge Valerie Robison will preside over an adoption docket bringing together eight children with seven families.  The adoptions will take place at the Mesa County Justice Center (125 N. Spruce Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501). For more information contact Karen Martsolf, Mesa County DHS, at (970) 256-2453.

National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 107,000 children in foster care across the country waiting to find permanent, loving families. Since its inception, National Adoption Day has made the dreams of thousands of children come true through the cooperative work of courts, judges, attorneys, adoption professionals, child welfare agencies, and advocates to finalize adoptions and find permanent, loving homes for children in foster care.

National Adoption Day is celebrated every year in November. In 2006, for the first time, National Adoption Day was celebrated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. That year, more than 250 events were held throughout the country to finalize the adoptions of more than 3,300 children in foster care, and to celebrate all families who adopt. Since 2000, more than 35,000 children have had their adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day.

Application Period Open for Forty-Five Vacancies on Judicial Nominating Commissions

On behalf of Governor John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers, and Chief Justice Michael L. Bender, the Colorado Judicial Branch announced on Thursday, September 15, 2011, the opening of the application period for forty-five vacancies on judicial nominating commissions across the state.

Some positions are open now, but the majority of vacancies will occur when current commissioners’ six-year terms end December 31, 2011. All commissioners serve as volunteers. Applications are due on or before October 14.

Thirty-two vacancies must be filled by non-attorneys selected by the Governor. Thirteen vacancies must be filled by attorneys selected by joint action of the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice. Vacancies will occur in twenty judicial district nominating commissions.

Each judicial district in Colorado has a nominating commission comprised of three attorneys and four non-attorneys who are tasked with selecting nominees for appointment to county and district judgeships. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is made up of seven attorneys, seven non-attorneys, and one non-attorney at-large member. Each of Colorado’s seven Congressional Districts is represented by one attorney and one non-attorney on the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which selects nominees for positions on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Application forms for vacancies on the various commissions can be found here. Completed application forms should be mailed to Romaine Pacheco, Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions, 136 State Capitol Bldg., Denver, Colorado 80203.  They also can be faxed to (303) 866-6368 or sent by e-mail to boards@state.co.us.

Article VI, Section 24 of the Colorado Constitution requires that for any nominating commission, “no more than one-half of the commission members plus one, exclusive of the Supreme Court justice serving as ex officio chair, shall be members of the same political party.” The Constitution also requires that at least one commissioner reside in each of the counties of the district. Applicants must reside in the judicial district – or, for the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the congressional district – to which they are applying for appointment.

Here is a list of upcoming nominating commission attorney vacancies along with any applicable residency and political-affiliation requirements:

  • First Judicial District: One vacancy.
  • Second Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee cannot be a registered Democrat.
  • Fourth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have one non-attorney vacancy. Only one position may be filled by a registered Democrat.
  • Fifth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have two non-attorney vacancies. One of the positions must be filled by a resident of Eagle County, one other by a resident of Lake County.
  • Sixth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have one non-attorney vacancy. One of the positions must be filled by a resident of San Juan County.
  • Seventh Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee must reside in Ouray County.
  • Ninth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have one non-attorney vacancy. One appointee must be a resident of Rio Blanco County and one a resident of Pitkin County.
  • Thirteenth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have three non-attorney vacancies. One appointee must be a resident of Yuma County, one a resident of Phillips County, one a resident of Sedgwick County, and one a resident of Logan County.
  • Fourteenth Judicial District: Two vacancies.
  • Sixteenth Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee cannot be a registered Democrat.
  • Nineteenth Judicial District: One vacancy.
  • Supreme Court: One vacancy. Appointee must be a resident of the Fifth Congressional District.

Here is a list of non-attorney vacancies, along with any applicable residency and political-affiliation requirements:

  • Second Judicial District: Two vacancies. Neither may be filled by a registered Democrat.
  • Third Judicial District: Two vacancies.
  • Fourth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have one attorney vacancy. Only one position may be filled by a registered Democrat.
  • Fifth Judicial District: Two vacancies. This commission also will have one attorney vacancy. One of the positions must be filled by a resident of Eagle County, one other by a resident of Lake County.
  • Sixth Judicial District: One vacancy. This commission also will have one attorney vacancy. One of the positions must be filled by a resident of San Juan County.
  • Eighth Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee must not be a registered Democrat.
  • Ninth Judicial District: Three vacancies. This commission also will have one attorney vacancy. At least one appointee must be a resident of Rio Blanco County and one a resident of Pitkin County.
  • Tenth Judicial District: Two vacancies. Neither may be filled by a registered Democrat.
  • Eleventh Judicial District: One vacancy.
  • Twelfth Judicial District: Two vacancies. One appointee must be a resident of Mineral County and one a resident of Costilla County.
  • Thirteenth Judicial District: Three vacancies. This commission also will have one attorney vacancy. One appointee must be a resident of Yuma County, one a resident of Phillips County, one a resident of Sedgwick County, and one a resident of Logan County.
  • Fourteenth Judicial District: Two vacancies.
  • Fifteenth Judicial District: Two vacancies.
  • Nineteenth Judicial District: One vacancy.
  • Twentieth Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee cannot be a registered Democrat.
  • Twenty-First Judicial District: Two vacancies. Neither appointee may be a registered Democrat.
  • Twenty-Second Judicial District: One vacancy. Appointee must be a resident of Dolores County.
  • Supreme Court: Two vacancies. One appointee must be a resident of the Second Congressional District and the other a resident of the Seventh Congressional District.

Click here to read the full release about the commission vacancies from State Judicial.

Judge Ruckriegle to Retire in August; State Seeks Successor

Longtime district court judge W. Terry Ruckriegle on Tuesday morning announced his intention to retire from Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District Court bench on August 31, according to a press release (pdf) issued by State Judicial.

The Fifth District Judicial Nominating Committee will convene on Friday, August 20, to review applications and recommend nominees to fill the vacancy. The meeting will be held in the training room of the Summit County Justice Center, 501 N. Park Ave., in Breckenridge. Following the interviews, the Commission will recommend finalists for Gov. Bill Ritter to consider for appointment, and the governor will announce his appointee within 15 days.

The Fifth Judicial District Court hears domestic relations, felony criminal, juvenile delinquency and dependency, civil, mental health, and probate cases for the 92,000-plus year-round residents of the four central-mountain counties of Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit. The District has a highly transient population, particularly during the winter months, when resident numbers usually triple in the ski and snowboard season. District court judges receive a provisional, two-year appointment by the governor, after which they are retained by voter approval every six years. The annual salary is $128, 598. Judge Ruckriegle’s successor will begin his or her term on January 1, 2011.

All attorneys licensed to practice in Colorado for at least five years and who are registered electors in the Fifth Judicial District are eligible to apply for the judgeship. Detailed information about the Fifth Judicial District and the application are available online. Application packages (consisting of one original application plus seven copies) must be received by the office of Commission ex officio chair, Justice Michael L. Bender, 101 W. Colfax Ave., Eighth Floor, no later than Monday, August 2 at 5:00 p.m.

A 1973 graduate of the law school at Indiana University, Judge Ruckriegle dedicated his professional life to public service, having spent the first nine years of his legal career as a prosecutor in the Fifth District’s District Attorney’s Office, followed by his appointment to the district court bench in 1984. He has been chief judge of the Fifth District since 1994.

Judge Ruckriegle has also served on the CBA CLE board of directors since 2000.

(image source: State Judicial)