Article VI, Section 5(3) of the Colorado Constitution authorizes the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court to assign judges and retired judges to temporarily perform judicial duties as necessary to foster the prompt disposition of judicial business. Section 24-51-1105, C.R.S. explains the organization of the Senior Judge Program and authorizes retirees to return to temporary judicial duties. Eligible retired judges who are selected for the program enter into a contract with the Chief Justice to perform judicial duties.
The Senior Judge Program assigns retired judges, at the request of trial courts, to hear cases in which the trial judges have recused themselves for reasons set forth by §13-1-122, C.R.S.; or so the court’s docket is not interrupted to the detriment of the litigants due to the illness or unexpected absence of a judge, judicial vacancy, judicial training and education or an overscheduled docket. In addition to the trial court services, the Senior Judges are frequently called upon by the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) to perform case screenings and to handle alternate dispute resolution settlement conferences, as well as by the Court of Appeals to handle overscheduled dockets, write opinions and operate the court’s pre-argument settlement program.
As of August 1, 2008,there are 71 judges participating in the Senior Judge Program. At present, the Senior Judge Program can provide 4, 320 days of coverage per year.