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La Plata County Judge Anne Woods resigns day after vote to dismiss her

Interim judges will be brought in to handle workload
La Plata County Court Judge Anne Woods resigned Wednesday after being dismissed by voters Tuesday. Woods had been in her position for two years. Woods received 12,151 votes to dismiss, and 11,591 to retain. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

La Plata County Judge Anne Woods resigned Wednesday, a day after she lost her retention vote.

Tuesday night’s vote count stood at 12,151 to dismiss and 11,591 votes to retain.

There were some outstanding votes, but La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee said there were not enough votes to flip the outcome. A final tally is expected later in the week.

Meanwhile, 6th Judicial District Judge Jeffrey Wilson will retain his seat with 18,469 votes to retain and 4,649 votes to dismiss.

Wilson was appointed to the 6th Judicial District in 2002. He was appointed chief judge of Colorado’s 6th Judicial District in 2017.

Woods is the only judge in the state of Colorado to lose her retention vote. She was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis in October 2020 to serve as La Plata County judge. The 2022 election marks the first time La Plata County voters have had a choice to retain or dismiss her.

Woods responded to her dismissal in an email to the Herald on Wednesday. The text in full reads:

Anne Woods is sworn in as a La Plata County Court judge by Jeffrey R. Wilson on Oct. 6, 2020. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

“I respect the voters’ decision and will be resigning immediately except to help with the transition,” she said. “Every day I tried my best to listen, to be fair, and to do what is right. In time, I hope the community comes to know who I really am and what I was trying to do.

“I also hope that, in time, the Durango Herald will become more objective. The community received a great deal of misinformation about who I was as a judge because they were fed cherry-picked facts about a few sensationalized cases. I took my role as an independent and impartial decision-maker seriously. I have a deep love for the rule of law and judge’s constitutional role, so I chose not to campaign (which is discouraged for the judiciary) or fight the misinformation.

“Despite what some may want you to believe, your community is not in danger. Crime is not up. Folks who commit crimes are being held accountable for their actions, which your local public servants balance with the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“It was a privilege to serve the public the past 2 years. I love this community, but I will find something that is a better fit. Take care of yourself, La Plata County.”

Upon news of the vote to dismiss Woods, 6th Judicial District Court Administrator Eric Hogue contacted the state’s senior judge program and made arrangements to fill Woods’ seat until a new judge is appointed by the governor.

It’s part of Colorado state statute that retired judges from across the state enter into the program. They can then be contracted for a period of time ranging from 15 to 90 days of service.

“At this point the majority of work will be covered by senior judges that will vary week to week until an appointment is made,” Hogue said.

Hogue’s office will now work with the state’s Supreme Court to assemble the nominating commission that will set an application period for new candidates, conduct interviews, then forward recommendations to the governor.

“This process is a little different now,” Hogue said. “What happens when a judge is not retained, the governor’s office has 30 days from the date of that judge’s term end to replace them. With Judge Woods opting to resign effective today, our 30 days begins tomorrow.”

Woods’ term was set to end at 11:59 p.m. Jan. 9.

“I think originally her plan may have been to stay until we were able to secure additional coverage, but due to the fact that we were able to get some senior judge coverage in place, I think that may have led to her early departure,” Hogue said. “I told her I would respect her decision whatever it was. And we will move forward.”

gjaros@durangoherald.com

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