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Three finalists named to fill La Plata County judge vacancy

Polis to select appointee by Sept. 11

Three finalists have been selected to replace La Plata County Judge Dondi Osborne, who will resign effective Oct. 1.

It was announced in March that Osborne intended to resign. She was appointed to the position by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2017 after the retirement of Judge Martha Minot.

The 6th Judicial District Nominating Commission announced this week three candidates for the job. Gov. Jared Polis has until Sept. 11 to appoint one of the nominees.

The three finalists are local defense attorney Graham Smith, Deputy District Attorney Reid Stewart and Colorado public defender Anne Woods.

Graham Smith

Smith, 46, received his law degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and has been licensed to practice for the past 18 years. Before moving to Durango 10 years ago, he was an assistant attorney general in Wyoming.

After moving to Durango, he took a job at the 6th Judicial Attorney’s Office. He has been in private practice for the past six years, litigating civil cases in county court and undertaking a “modest amount” of criminal cases.

He also served as the interim prosecutor for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe from August 2018 to November 2019.

“I have a diverse range of experience ... of both criminal and civil caseloads,” he said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “This is an important position in this community, and I would be honored to have the responsibility of filling it.”

Reid Stewart

Stewart, 48, received his law degree from the Texas Wesleyan School of Law (now University of Texas A&M School of Law).

He started his career in prosecution for Coffman County in Texas and went on to work as an assistant district attorney. He then worked in insurance litigation before transitioning to civil practice.

Stewart moved to Durango in 2009 after the election of former District Attorney Todd Risberg. Though Risberg has since been replaced by Christian Champagne, Stewart is now a deputy district attorney.

He said his most proud accomplishment in the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has been transitioning from a mindset geared toward more convictions and harsher sentences to restorative justice programs.

“We put an emphasis on programs that actually tried to help the individual,” he told the Herald.

If appointed, Stewart said he’d like to continue those efforts.

“If I am fortunate enough to be county court judge, I’ll look at alternative funding through the state and grants,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll find anyone to work as hard as I do.”

Anne Woods

Woods, a public defender at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Durango Office, did not return calls for comment on Friday.

According to her LinkedIn account, she received her law degree in 2015 from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and she has worked as a public defender in the state for nearly five years.


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