Commission today interviewing candidates to replace judges Blair and Gilmore

Submitted by CatWhisperer on Mon, 12/06/2010 - 22:48

Quoted from Coloradoan Story: Commission today interviewing candidates to replace judges Blair and Gilmore
Author: Trevor Hughes
"A nominating commission that's helping Gov. Bill Ritter select two new judges to replace ousted Larimer District Court judges Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair is interviewing candidates today. The commission -- three local attorneys and four area residents who aren't lawyers -- today interviewed, among others, Norm Townsend, the chief area public defender. The interviews are being conducted in a conference room in the courthouse suite housing Chief District Court Judge Stephen Schapanski's office, and candidates are checking in with Schapanski's clerk. Townsend declined to comment on Monday.

Blair and Gilmore are set to leave the bench by Jan. 11 after voters this fall overwhelmingly declined to retain them. The two were swept from their seats by voters angered by the two former prosecutors' roles in the murder conviction of Timothy Masters. Masters this summer received $10 million from Fort Collins, Larimer County and their insurers to settle his federal wrongful imprisonment lawsuit filed in the wake of his 2008 release from a life sentence.

The members of that nominating committee are attorneys Linda Miller, Jennifer Rice and Mark Shaffer, and non-attorneys Jeffrey Swanty, Keither Holsinger, Walta Ruff and Esther Girard. Ritter on Nov. 29 appointed local defense attorney Tom French to a newly funded district court judge position. And in August, Ritter appointed Tom Lynch, a deputy district attorney, to a county court position. All four of the most recently appointed judges in Larimer County have worked as prosecutors in some capacity, including French.

Frank Oldham, an attorney who was interviewed for a Larimer judgeship in 2002, said who is selected depends much on the sitting governor. He said governors Richard Lamm and Roy Romer tended to pick people who were perceived as lenient at sentencing. Oldham wasn't picked as a judge, and is now semi-retired due to a disability. "A prosecutor couldn't get appointed. It just didn't happen," Oldham of the Lamm and Romer years. "You might get the interview, but prosecutors didn't get the nod." Oldham said his perception is that former Gov. Bill Owens, and Ritter, a former prosecutor, both sought candidates with prosecutorial experience. "It was a pendulum effect ... and it's probably going to go the other way with the Hickenlooper administration," he said.

Based on historical precedent, the nominating commission will forward three names for each position to Ritter, who has 15 days from when he receives them to make his picks. Blair and Gilmore are the two most senior members of the bench in the Eighth Judicial District, which currently has eight district judges and four magistrates. Magistrates are hired and dismissed by the chief judge and are not subject to retention elections."

---------- CENSORED COMMENT ----------

Replying to BobMoore:
tiejie, the names of the three finalists forwarded to Gov. Ritter will be public record before he makes the selection, allowing the public time to comment on the nominees.

But not with enough time to thoughtfully and thoroughly research the candidates and forward an informed public citizen letter to the Governor. As usual, it seems to appear that public participation in the process is a façade. 12/6/2010 7:34:07 PM


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