District Judge David Dickinson, who has served on the bench for 14 years, announced this week he will retire at the end of February.
“I’m looking forward to sailing and traveling and so forth,” he said Friday during an interview. “I’ve been privileged to work with some wonderful people, both judges and court staff, as well as the bar. I can’t imagine a more rewarding career.”
Dickinson’s retirement creates a new opening for a district judge in the 6th Judicial District.
A nominating commission will meet Feb. 26 at the La Plata County Courthouse to interview and select nominees for appointment by the governor.
It is the second opening for a district judgeship within a year in the district, which includes Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata counties. The state last year created a new district judge position, which was filled by Suzanne Carlson.
Dickinson, 67, was appointed in December 1998. Before that, he was in private practice in Durango specializing in real estate, commercial and business litigation, and local government law.
Before entering private practice, he served as an attorney for La Plata County and assistant attorney for the city and county of Denver. He received his undergraduate degree in metallurgical engineering in 1964 from the Colorado School of Mines and his law degree in 1976 from the University of Denver.
Serving as district judge has had its rewards and challenges, Dickinson said. He was forced to learn areas of law that he hadn’t dealt with before, he said.
“If you’re an attorney, you try to limit your areas of practice to things you know and do well,” he said. “As a judge, you take whatever comes down the pike, especially in a jurisdiction like this where we all have mixed dockets.”
The hardest cases are those involving children, especially dependency and termination of parental rights cases, he said.
“Most of it just tears your heart out,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson said he plans to spend winter months in Mexico, but will keep a house in Durango or Bayfield.
To be eligible for the vacancy, applicants must be a voter in the 6th Judicial District and must have been admitted to practice law in Colorado for five years.
The annual salary for the position is $128,598.
The initial term of office of a district judge is a provisional term of two years. After that, voters decide whether to retain the judge for a term of six years.
The members of the nominating commission are Lisa Scott and James Ford of Pagosa Springs; Stephen Fearn of Silverton; and John Baxter, Thomas Shipps, Robert Oswald and Gary Lindsay of Durango.