Arapahoe County Court (18th Judicial District) Judge Nominees biographies released for public review
The names and short bios of 3 nominees to replace outgoing Arapahoe County Judge Valeria Spencer (resigning effective 10 August) have been released for public review and comment.
Public comments must be received no later than 20 August 2012 to be considered; submit comments via E-mail (subject: “Arapahoe County Court, Eighteenth Judicial District: Judicial Nominees”) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As published in Law Week Online, the names of (and summary information on) the nominees are as follows:
The 18th Judicial District Nominating Commission named three candidates for a district court judgeship created by the resignation of Judge Valeria Spencer, effective Aug. 10, 2012. Nominees M. Paula Ashen of Centennial, Stephen Hensen of Littleton, and Theresa Slade of Elizabeth were selected by the commission on Aug. 6, 2012.
According to the State Supreme Court’s website, Ashen is a sole practitioner in Greenwood Village; Hensen practices with Murphy Decker Hensen & Cook-Olson; and Slade is a magistrate in the 18th Judicial District.
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 the relevant 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.