Dolores County Judge Anthony Nathaniel Baca, who was appointed last week to serve as a La Plata County Court judge, has received a quick promotion.
Gov. Jared Polis announced this week he is appointing Baca to serve as district court judge in the 6th Judicial District, which includes Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata counties.
Baca had not yet taken the oath of office as La Plata County judge before being named to the district court bench.
Baca applied for both positions. The county judgeship opened first, and he successfully landed that job before the governor’s office named him to the district court judgeship.
When reached Friday, the governor’s office dodged a question about why the governor first appointed Baca to the county court position and then moved him into the district court position, all within a week.
“He (Polis) looks forward to selecting a new person from the new names that will be submitted to him for the vacancy on the La Plata County court,” a spokesman said by email.
A similar situation occurred in Larimer County last year when someone was appointed to one court but named to a different court before being sworn in to the first judgeship.
The move means a new application and nominating process will likely be held for the La Plata County Court position, said Jon Sarché, spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Branch.
Baca was one of 11 candidates to apply for the county court position. The 6th Judicial District Nominating Commission selected him and two others as finalists.
Sarché said the application and nomination process for the La Plata County Court judgeship will likely be restarted as a matter of fairness.
“The pool of finalists is different now,” he said. ” … Who knows, maybe somebody was thinking about it (applying for judge) and missed the deadline or some new person will decide, ‘Hey, maybe this is for me.’”
County court judges oversee lower-level offenses, such as misdemeanors and civil cases of $25,000 or less, while district court judges oversee higher-level offenses such as felonies and misdemeanors, high-dollar lawsuits, and water court cases.
The county court position pays $175,908 per year and the district court position pays $183,816.
The county court position opened in November when a majority of La Plata County voters dismissed Judge Anne Woods, who resigned a day after the retention vote. The district court position was set to become vacant Jan. 14 with the resignation of District Court Judge Todd Norvell.
Baca has served as Dolores County judge since 2020. Before that, he interned for the prosecutor’s office for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to a bio written last year in his judicial review. As part of that role, he assisted with the prosecution of high-ranking officials suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s.
After law school, Baca practiced law in New Mexico and Colorado. He earned a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
A swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 17 in Division 4 of the La Plata County Courthouse.