Judge Appel was appointed as a District Judge in March 1986; he served as a County Judge from January 1985 to March 1986. Prior to his appointment as a judge, he was in private practice in Longmont, Colorado, then served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Third Judicial District and had a private practice there. He received his B.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1974 and his law degree from the University of Colorado in 1978.
The Huerfano County Teen Court program which he began in 1995 and which now operates in both District and County Courts and in the local high school is an example of how Judge Appel has positively affected his district outside of his courtroom.