Montrose County Court (7th Judicial District) Judge Nominees biographies released for public review
The names and short bios of 3 nominees to replace outgoing Montrose County Judge Jerry Montgomery (who resigned last month) have been released by the governor’s office for public review and comment.
Public comments must be received no later than 3PM on 2 August 2012 to be considered; submit comments via E-mail (subject line “Montrose County Court, Seventh Judicial District: Judicial Nominees”) to: email@example.com
As published in Law Week Online, the names (and short bios) of the nominees are as follows:
Bennet Morris currently works as the Senior Assistant City Attorney for the city of Montrose. A position he has held since 2003. In his position Mr. Morris provides a range of legal advice to the City Council, senior staff, the Planning Commission, and other city boards. Prior to his work at the City Attorney’s Office Mr. Morris worked as an indemnity and claims evaluator at the Land Title Guarantee Company. As the examiner, Mr. Morris preformed chain of title searches and examined lender short form files. Mr. Morris received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1997 and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho in 2001.
Seth Ryan currently works as the Deputy District Attorney in the Seventh Judicial District, a position he has held since 2007. Prior to his work at the District Attorney’s Office Mr. Ryan worked as a solo practitioner where he focused on real estate transactions and litigation, as a special assistant for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, and as corporate counsel for Swinging Door Liquors. Mr. Ryan received his undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State College in 1994, and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver in 1997.
Jason Williams currently works as the Deputy District Attorney for the Seventh Judicial District, a position he has held since 2011. As Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Wilson focuses on misdemeanor criminal cases in the Montrose County Court. Prior to his time as Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Wilson worked for Delman & Hotsenpiller, a small general practice firm focusing on civil and criminal litigation. Mr. Williams received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in 1993, and he earned his Juris Doctorate from the Willamette School of Law in 1999.
As required under the Colorado Constitution (Article VI, Section 20), vacancies for judicial office are filled by the governor from a list of nominees selected by a judicial nominating commission (Colorado Constitution, Article VI, Section 24).
The Judicial Nominating Commissions – established by constitutional amendment in 1966 as a replacement for direct, contested elections of judges – are responsible for reviewing applications (and interviewing applicants) for those wishing to become judges under Colorado’s selection/retention system. As such, they are the first line of “vetting” prospective judicial officeholders – selecting nominees (usually a list of 3 names) from whom the governor picks to make the final appointment.
Unlike on the judicial review commissions – which are often heavily biased and politically unbalanced – there is a legal requirement for partisan balance on the nominating commissions: no more than 7 (at the statewide level) or 4 (at the judicial district level) may be registered as members of the same political party (there is no restriction on ideological leaning for unaffiliated or minor-party members), and at nominees for judicial office must receive at least one vote from commission members of a different party.
Once the nominating commissions have submitted their list of nominees to the governor,
The governor must select one of the nominees within 15 days after receiving the list of nominees. If the governor does not appoint someone within those 15 days, then the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court appoints one of those individuals to fill that vacancy. The judge so chosen serves an initial term of two years. The judge must then stand for retention at the next general election.
If retained by voters after serving an initial two-year term, state court judges serve the following terms: county court, four years; district court, six years; Court of Appeals, eight years; and Supreme Court, 10 years. All Colorado state judges must retire by age 72.
Citizen participation in the judicial nominating commissions (either at the district level or statewide) is essential to ensuring that good judges – who understand that their role is to fairly and impartially uphold and apply the law – are elevated to judicial office, instead of more politicians in black robes.
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.