December 18, 2018

Chad C. Miller Appointed to 4th Judicial District Court; John E. Scipione Appointed to 18th Judicial District Court

On Thursday, September 20, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Chad C. Miller to the 4th Judicial District Court and John E. Scipione to the 18th Judicial District Court. Miller will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Theresa M. Cisneros, effective January 8, 2019, and Scipione will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Kurt Horton, effective September 29, 2018.

Miller is currently at the Office of the State Public Defender in Colorado Springs, where he represents clients facing felony charges, including murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, child abuse, robbery, and other crimes of violence, and where he supervises other public defenders. Prior to his work at the public defender’s office, he worked at Sherman and Howard LLC and Hoffman, Reilly, Pozner, and Williamson LLP (now Reilly Pozner LLP). He received his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University and his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Scipione is currently an Arapahoe County Court judge, where he oversees a docket of misdemeanor and traffic matters. Previously, he was a District Court Magistrate in the 18th Judicial District, and prior to his work as magistrate he was managing partner of the Denver office of Taussig, Scipione & Taussig, P.C. He has practiced in the areas of family law, dependency and neglect, criminal defense, commercial litigation, medical negligence, catastrophic injury and wrongful death, products liability, and employment/Title VII matters in both state and federal courts. He has also spoken at family law and litigation programs for CBA-CLE. He received his undergraduate degree from State University of New York at Binghamton and his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School.

For more information about these appointments, click here.

Meredith Cord and Denise Peacock Appointed to El Paso County Court

On Friday, August 24, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Meredith Cord and D. Denise Peacock to the El Paso County Court in the 4th Judicial District. They will fill vacancies created by the retirements of Hon. Stephen J. Sletta and Hon. Regina Walter, effective January 7, 2019.

Hon. Meredith Cord is a District Court Magistrate in the 4th Judicial District, where she oversees a docket of domestic relations, juvenile, and quasi-criminal contempt actions. She was appointed as magistrate in 2013. She was in private practice from 2004 to 2013, practicing domestic relations, probate, estate planning, and family law with various firms. She was also a deputy district attorney from 2003 to 2004. She received her law degree from Case Western Reserve University and her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University.

Hon. Denise Peacock is a District Court Magistrate in the 4th Judicial District, where she presides over juvenile and family law matters. She was appointed as magistrate in 2002. Prior to her appointment, she in private practice from 1997 to 2001, where she practiced family, juvenile, and criminal law. She was a member of the United States Air Force from 1991 to 1997, where she served as as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate and as Area Defense Counsel. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Columbia College.

For more information about the appointments, click here.

Finalists Selected for Judicial Vacancies on El Paso County Court

On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission’s selection of five finalists for two upcoming vacancies on the El Paso County Court. Those vacancies will be effective January 9, 2019, and are occasioned by the retirement of Hon. Regina Walter and Hon. Stephen Sletta.

The five nominees are Meredith Cord, Samuel Evig, Marcus Henson, Chad Miller, and Dulce Denise Peacock. Hon. Meredith Cord is a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District in Colorado Springs. Samuel Evig is a criminal defense attorney at Dahl Fisher Wilks in Colorado springs. Hon. Marcus Henson is a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District in Colorado Springs. Chad Miller is a public defender at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office in Colorado Springs. Hon. Denise Peacock is a magistrate in the Fourth Judicial District in Colorado Springs.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from August 9 in which to appoint two of the nominees to the bench. Comments regarding any of the nominees may be emailed to the governor at gov_judicialappointments@state.co.us. For more information about the nominees, click here.

Hon. Stephen J. Sletta and Hon. Regina Walter to Retire from El Paso County Court

On Thursday, June 15, 2018, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the retirement of Hon. Stephen J. Sletta and Hon. Regina Walter. Both judges sit on the El Paso County Court, and their retirements will be effective on January 7, 2019.

Judge Sletta was appointed to the El Paso County Court in 1991. He mostly presides over a docket of civil cases, including traffic violations and misdemeanor charges. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he was in private practice for 15 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Colorado College and his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law.

Judge Walter was appointed to the El Paso County Court in August 2008. Prior to her appointment, she was an El Paso County Court magistrate for 21 years, working in the juvenile court. She was also a deputy public defender prior to her appointment as a magistrate. She received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College and her law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law.

Applications are now being accepted for both upcoming vacancies. 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 on the State Judicial website or from Justice Carlos A. Samour, Jr., the ex officio chair of the Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on July 23, 2018; anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than July 16, 2018.

For more information about the vacancies, click here.

Jessica Curtis Appointed to El Paso County Court

On Friday, October 20, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the governor’s appointment of Jessica Curtis to fill a vacancy on the El Paso County Court, effective immediately. The vacancy was created by the resignation of Hon. Daniel Wilson.

Curtis has been a magistrate judge in the Fourth Judicial District since 2011, where she presides over civil and juvenile dockets. Prior to her work as a magistrate, she was a partner at Hoffecker & Curtis, L.L.P., worked at the Colorado Public Defender’s Office in Colorado Springs, and worked at the Office of the Guardian ad Litem. She also has worked a mediator in Colorado Springs. She is a member of the Colorado and El Paso County bar associations, the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the National Association of Counsel for Children. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

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.