Former District Attorney Will Furse has been appointed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to serve as judge for the 22nd Judicial District Court, which serves Montezuma and Dolores counties.
Furse, 43, will fill the vacancy, effective Jan. 10, that was created by the retirement of the Chief Justice Douglas Walker, who was appointed by Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007.
Polis chose Furse over county Judge JenniLynn Lawrence of Mancos.
Furse served as district attorney in the 22nd Judicial District for two terms, 2012 to 2020.
After being term-limited, he was hired in 2021 as assistant district attorney. He resigned in 2022 to go into private practice.
Before serving in the District Attorney’s Office, Furse was a deputy state public defender in the 22nd and 6th judicial districts, worked in private practice and was a public defender for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
Furse earned a law degree in 2005 from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
In a statement submitted in his application for the judge position, Furse said his experience as a public defender, district attorney and attorney for Native Americans would benefit him as a judge.
“As a judge, I will enthusiastically bring my balanced and empathetic perspective to the 22nd District,” he said. “Throughout my career, I have aspired to achieve justice in a manner that promotes positive change and rehabilitation in the unique cultural landscape of Southwest Colorado.”
As district attorney, Furse said he developed new programs and alternatives to traditional prosecution focused on personal growth and recovery, including one of Colorado’s largest diversion programs.
“Striving to break cycles of addiction and criminality, I have used evidence-based practices to identify individuals whose minor indiscretions warrant removal from the criminal justice system while incorporating treatment-based dispositions such as drug court for those who require formal supervision,” Furse said.
As a judge, Furse said he will strive to maintain a reputation of being objective, principled and courteous.
“I will dutifully listen and ensure all parties have a voice and opportunity to be heard. My attention, respect and empathy will be given to all involved. I will work to prevent recidivism, reduce rates of incarceration, mitigate minority overrepresentation in the criminal system, and foster civility amongst competing stakeholders,” he said.
Walker was appointed to the 22nd Judicial District in July 2007, and has served as chief judge in the district for the past 10 years.
He served as district and court magistrate for the 22nd and 6th judicial districts from 1997 to 2007.
Before his judicial service, Walker was in private practice for 20 years, 13 of which included serving as the prosecutor in the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Court. He graduated from University of Colorado School of Law in 1979.
In 2016, voters retained him as judge for another six-year term by 61%.