October 18, 2017

Erin Lynn Sokol Appointed to Fourth Judicial District Court

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the appointment of Erin Lynn Sokol to the district court bench in the Fourth Judicial District. Sokol will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Gilbert A. Martinez, effective August 1, 2017.

Sokol is currently a trial lawyer at Hogan Lovells in Colorado Springs. She primarily focuses on commercial litigation and employment law. She is a trustee for the Legal Aid Foundation and is a member of the El Paso County and Colorado bar associations. She is also a director of the El Paso County Bar Foundation and the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

District Court Judge William Bain Appointed Chief Judge of 4th Judicial District

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced that District Court Judge William Bain will become the Chief Judge of the Fourth Judicial District upon the retirement of the current chief judge, Judge Gilbert Martinez, who will retire effective August 1, 2017.

Judge Bain was appointed to the Fourth Judicial District Court bench in 2010. Prior to his appointment, he was at Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley in Denver, served as a Fourth Judicial District deputy district attorney, and was a civil litigator for the City of Colorado Springs for three years. He received his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and his law degree from Cornell University.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

Hon. Gilbert A. Martinez to Retire from Fourth Judicial District Court

On Friday, March 31, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the retirement of Hon. Gilbert A. Martinez from the Fourth Judicial District Court, effective August 1, 2017.

Judge Martinez was appointed to the Fourth Judicial District Court bench in 1989. He was Chief Judge of the District Court from 1994 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2016. He primarily handles a domestic relations docket. Judge Martinez is a frequent participant in community events such as Teen Court and Mock Trial. Prior to his appointment to the district court bench, he was a public defender in the Colorado Springs Public Defender’s Office from 1978 to 1989, and was director of that office for four years. He received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado, and received his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School. He is a native of Colorado.

Applications are now being accepted for the upcoming vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of the Fourth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available on the State Judicial website or from the ex officio chair of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice Allison Eid. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on May 22, 2017, and anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on May 15.

For more information about the vacancy, click here.

Nominees Selected for El Paso County Court Vacancy

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the selection of three nominees for a vacancy on the El Paso County Court. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Hon. Jonathan L. Walker, effective February 15, 2017.

The nominees are Jessica Curtis of Colorado Springs, Samuel Evig of Colorado Springs, and Shannon Gerhart of Calhan. Jessica Curtis is a partner at Hoffecker & Curtis L.L.P. in Colorado Springs, where she practices in the areas of juvenile law, domestic relations, criminal law, probate, and trust & estate law. Samuel Evig is a Deputy District Attorney in the 18th Judicial District. Shannon Gerhart is a District Attorney in the 4th Judicial District.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days in which to appoint one of the nominees to the vacancy. Comments about any of the nominees may be submitted to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. For more information about the nominees, click here.

Application Period Open for Vacancy on El Paso County Court

On Monday, February 13, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced a vacancy on the El Paso County Court in the Fourth Judicial District. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Hon. Jonathan Walker, effective February 15, 2017.

Applications are now being accepted for the vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of El Paso County and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available from the State Judicial website, or from the ex officio chair of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice William Hood, III. Applications must be received no later than February 27, 2017. Anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than February 21, 2017.

For more information about the vacancy and application process, click here.

Hon. Edward Colt to Retire from Fourth Judicial District Court

ColtOn Monday, July 11, 2016, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the retirement of Hon. Edward Colt from the Fourth Judicial District Court, effective October 1, 2016. Judge Colt was appointed to the district court bench in August 1999. Judge Colt is active in his community, and frequently presides over Teen Court and Moot Court competitions. Prior to his appointment, Judge Colt was a municipal judge for the City of Colorado Springs and an attorney in private practice. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and his law degree from California Western School of Law.

Applications are now being accepted for the upcoming vacancy. Eligible applicants must be qualified electors of the Fourth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available from the State Judicial website or from the ex officio chair of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice Nathan Coats. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on August 15, 2016, to be considered. Anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on August 8, 2016.

For more information about the vacancy, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: County’s Master Plan Retained Advisory Status when Not Incorporated Into Land Development Code

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan, Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4)—Special Use Permit Appeal—Binding Nature of Master Plans.

Under C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4), plaintiffs, Friends of Black Forest Preservation Plan, Inc. and several residents of the Black Forest area, appealed the district court’s judgment affirming the decision of defendant Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County (Board) approving the special use permit application of defendant Black Forest Mission, LLC (BFM) to construct a greenhouse operation in the Black Forest Preservation area.

BFM proposed to construct a 1.19-acre greenhouse on a 4.87-acre lot it owned in an area governed by the Black Forest Preservation Plan (BFPP), which is contained within El Paso County’s overall master plan. Greenhouses are allowed if less than one acre in size, but a special use permit is required for larger greenhouses.

The Planning Commission recommended by a 6–2 vote that the Board deny BFM’s application for a special use permit because of its inconsistency with both El Paso County’s Policy Plan and the BFPP. At the first hearing before the Board, BFM was granted a continuance to amend its application to attempt to ameliorate various concerns of the Planning Commission and residents. At the next hearing, BFM presented a revised plan proposing three smaller greenhouses that collectively would be larger and would be built on two parcels instead of one. BFM also modified the location to address concerns about light pollution, view obstruction, and traffic congestion. The Board approved BFM’s amended special use application by a vote of 3–2.

Plaintiffs filed this action, arguing the Board misapplied governing law and abused its discretion because of its belief, as relayed by a county attorney, that the county’s master plan was merely advisory. The district court affirmed the Board’s decision, agreeing that the county’s master plan was advisory and there was competent evidence in the record supporting the Board’s decision to approve BFM’s special use permit application. Plaintiffs appealed.

The court of appeals noted that C.R.S. § 30-28-106 provides that master plans may be made binding by formal inclusion in county land use regulations. The court undertook an extensive analysis of El Paso County’s land use regulation scheme and rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the Board’s approval was based on an erroneous legal standard, concluding there was a reasonable basis for the Board’s interpretation of its own regulatory framework. It held that the master plan was advisory and the Board has discretion in deciding how to apply the master plan in its decisions on special use applications.

Plaintiffs also argued it was error for the district court to find competent evidence in the record to support the Board’s decision. The court disagreed.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Linda Billings-Vela and Jill M. Brady Appointed to Fourth Judicial District Court

On Friday, May 29, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper announced the appointments of Linda Billings-Vela and Jill M. Brady to the district court in the Fourth Judicial District. They will fill vacancies created by the retirement of Hon. Thomas Kennedy and the resignation of Hon. Barney Iuppa, both effective July 1, 2015.

Billings-Vela is currently a judge on the Teller County Court, where she was appointed in September 2011. Prior to her appointment to the Teller County Court bench, Judge Billings-Vela was a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District, where she served since 2009, presiding over juvenile cases such as dependency & neglect, family treatment, and drug court cases. She was a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial District from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2001 to 2009, where she worked in the juvenile, county court, district court, and economic crimes divisions. From 1997 to 2001, Billings-Vela was an associate with Anderson Dude & Lebel. She received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College and her law degree from University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Brady is currently a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District, where she presides over a domestic relations docket, including dissolution of marriage, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, and paternity. She was appointed as magistrate in 2013, and prior to that appointment she worked at Colorado Legal Services from 2007 to 2013. She was an associate at Littler Mendelson, P.C. from 2006 to 2007 and an associate at Eimer Stahl LLC from 2004 to 2006. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from University of Michigan Law School.

Application Period Open for Two Fourth Judicial District Court Openings

On Monday, February 23, 2015, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced two forthcoming vacancies on the bench of the Fourth Judicial District Court. Hon. Thomas Kennedy will retire and Hon. Barney Iuppa will resign, both effective July 1, 2015.

Judge Thomas Kennedy was appointed to the district court bench in 1999. He presides over a mixed docket, including domestic, civil, criminal, and juvenile matters. Prior to his appointment, he was an attorney in private practice, emphasizing civil and criminal litigation. He is on the board of directors for the El Paso County Bar Foundation and is the board chair for the Pikes Peak YMCA. He received both his undergraduate degree and law degree (with honors) from the University of Colorado.

Judge Barney Iuppa was appointed to the district court bench in 2008. Prior to that, he was an El Paso County Court judge since 1995. He has also worked as a public defender, an elected district attorney, and as an attorney in private practice. He is on the board of directors for the Multiple Sclerosis Alliance of Southern Colorado, and is a former president of that organization. He earned his law degree from the University of Denver.

Eligible applicants for the vacancies must be qualified electors of the Fourth Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years. Application forms are available from Justice Allison Eid, the ex officio chair of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission, and also from the Colorado State Judicial Branch website. Applications are due no later than 4 p.m. on April 22, 2015. Anyone wishing to nominate another person must submit the nomination no later than 4 p.m. on April 15, 2015.

For more information about the vacancies and for contact information for members of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission, click here.

Hon. Laura Findorff Appointed to County Court Bench in Fourth Judicial District

On Thursday, December 20, 2012, Governor Hickenlooper announced the appointment of Hon. Laura Findorff to the El Paso County Court bench in the Fourth Judicial District. Judge Findorff will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Hon. Marla Prudek to the district court bench in the Fourth Judicial District.

Hon. Laura Findorff currently works as a magistrate judge in the Eighteenth Judicial District. She moved to Colorado in 2000, and since then she has worked as an adjunct professor at Pikes Peak Community College, a law clerk at Gentry & Hastings, a senior editor at LexisNexis, of counsel to Haskins & Cyboron, and a legal research attorney in the Eighteenth Judicial District. Prior to moving to Colorado, she was in private practice in California.

Judge Findorff’s appointment is effective November 8, 2012.

Finalists Selected for Judgeship on Fourth Judicial District Court Bench

On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission announced three nominees to fill a vacancy on the Fourth Judicial District Court bench. The vacancy will be created by the retirement of the Honorable Robert Crowder, effective January 31, 2013.

The three nominees are Robin Lynn Chittum, Regina Walter, and Gail Warkentin, all of Colorado Springs. The nominees were selected on Monday, December 10, 2012.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from December 10 to select one of the three nominees to fill the vacancy. Comments regarding the nominees may be sent to the governor via email at judicial.appointments@state.co.us. Contact information for the nominees can be found here.

Finalists Selected for Judgeship in El Paso County Court

On Monday, December 3, 2012, the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission announced its selection of three finalists to fill a vacancy on the El Paso County Court bench. The vacancy was created when Judge Marla Prudek was appointed to the District Court in the Fourth Judicial District, effective November 9, 2012.

The three nominees are Michael Feeney of Colorado Springs, Laura Findorff of Castle Rock, and Sheilagh McAteer of Colorado Springs. The nominees were selected on Friday, November 30, 2012.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from December 3, 2012 to appoint one of the nominees as El Paso County Court Judge. Comments regarding any of the nominees may be sent to the governor via email. Contact information for the nominees may be found here.