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Eight applicants apply for La Plata County court judge opening

Public can submit comments regarding qualifications of candidates

The 6th Judicial Nominating Commission tasked with interviewing applicants to replace former judge Anne Woods and then forward recommendations to the governor, begins interviews Dec. 9 at the La Plata County Courthouse.

Former judge Anne Woods lost her place on the bench Nov. 9 when voters chose not to retain her services. She resigned Nov. 10.

Woods’ resignation set the timeline for choosing a new judge. According to Colorado state law, the nominating commission must meet within 30 days of the vacancy, select its nominees based on written applications, recommendations, and personal interviews, and then submit the names to the governor.

The eight candidates who applied by the Nov. 25 application deadline are Anthony Baca of Dolores County; Matt Margeson from Dolores; Vance Davis, Jason Eley and Christian Hatfield from Durango; Anthony Edwards from Silverton; Reid Stewart from Hesperus; and William Baird from Sacramento, California

To be eligible, an applicant must be a “qualified elector of La Plata County at the time of investiture and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado,” according to the Colorado Judicial Department.

The annual salary for the position is $175,908.

The governor must select a nominee within 15 days of receiving the commission’s recommendations. If he does not make a choice, then the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court appoints one of the nominees.

The person chosen serves an initial term of two years. The judge must then stand for retention at the next general election.

The seven-member nominating commission consists of people who live within the district, which encompasses La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties. No more than four members can be from the same political party, and there must be at least one voting member from each of the three counties in the district. Three of the members must be admitted to practice law in Colorado while four cannot be. 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 interviews are not open to the public and “once we do meet, our deliberations and reasons for submitting particular names to the governor is required to remain confidential,” commission member Barrie Newberger King wrote in an email to The Durango Herald. “There is not a public question period for people to inquire about our meetings.”

What the public can do, according to the Colorado Judicial Department, is “comment on the qualifications of the applicants.” Comments may be directed to any member of the commission, with a copy to the ex officio chair, Justice Maria Berkenkotter, 2 East 14th Ave., Denver, CO, and to judicial.vacancies@judicial.state.co.us no later than 4 p.m. Dec. 6.

Contact information for nominating commission members are:

  • Kathryn Steelman, ksteelmanlaw@gmail.com
  • Albert Northrop, pagosacowboy@gmail.com
  • Ingrid Alt, ialt@gmalawyers.com
  • John Wright, wrightjo@frontier.net
  • Barrie Hedges Newberger King, barrie@newbergerkinglaw.com
  • James Cross, cross_j@fortlewis.edu
  • Paul DeBell, padebell@fortlewis.edu

gjaros@durangoherald.com

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Anthony Baca is from Dolores. He lives in Dolores County, not the town of Dolores. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.

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