Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission position open for 3rd Congressional District (attorneys only need apply)

The Colorado Judicial Branch, “[o]n behalf of Gov. John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and Chief Justice Michael L. Bender,” recently announced

opening of the application period for a vacancy on the Supreme Court Nominating Commission.
Applications for the volunteer position, which must be filled by an attorney residing in the 3rd Congressional District, will be accepted until Aug. 3, 2012. There is no political party affiliation requirement for this vacancy.

Under Colorado’s “merit selection and retention” system of filling judicial offices, the judicial nominating commissions – at either the district level, or statewide – represent one of the few opportunities for Colorado citizens to have a say in the composition of our courts.  In essence, the commissions are the means by which Citizens can become involved in choosing our judges.

At the district level (Colorado is divided into 22 judicial districts),

Each judicial district nominating commission consists of seven citizens residing in that judicial district. No more than four members can be from the same political party, and there must be at least one voting member from each county in the district. [Source: Colorado State Courts,  Judicial Nominating Commissions]

At the statewide level (including both the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals),

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission recommends candidates to serve as judges for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The chief justice of the Supreme Court chairs the commission and is a non-voting member. This commission includes one citizen admitted to practice law in Colorado and one citizen not admitted to practice law residing in each of the state’s seven congressional districts, and one additional citizen not admitted to practice law in Colorado.  [Total of 15 commissioners] (Source: Judicial Nominating Commissions)

From the press release:

Article VI, Section 24 of the Colorado Constitution requires that for any nominating commission, “no more than one-half of the commission members plus one, exclusive of the Supreme Court justice serving as ex officio chair, shall be members of the same political party.” The Constitution also requires that at least one commissioner reside in each of the counties of the district. Applicants must reside in the judicial district – or, for the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the Congressional District – to which they are applying for appointment.

Application forms may be found on the Colorado Judicial Department web site at http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Nominating.cfm. Completed application forms may be mailed to Cheryl Stevens, Colorado Supreme Court, 101 W. Colfax, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80202. They also may be sent via email to cheryl.stevens@judicial.state.co.us.

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.

This is particularly important in selecting the next Colorado Supreme Court justices – who all too frequently have exercised unrestrained power in violation of constitutional limits on their authority.

Our judicial system depends more than any other branch of government on public trust and confidence that the law is being applied fairly and impartially for all citizens – that our supreme court justices are fulfilling their proper roles as referees upholding the rules rather than players attempting to score for their “team’s” agenda.

Our view: an informed citizenry and active citizen participation is vital in restoring accountability and transparency to the 3rd branch of state government, the judicial branch – most particularly for the Colorado Supreme Court.

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.

However, we can’t do it alone –  we need your continued support; via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

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