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Scroll down to view the Rosters, Rules and District Overview for each judicial district.
In 1966, the people of Colorado passed a constitutional amendment which provides that state judges be appointed rather than elected on a political ticket. Now, when a vacancy occurs in a county or district judgeship, the judicial district nominating commission interviews applicants and recommends individuals to the governor for consideration and appointment. Three nominees must be submitted to the governor for judgeships on the court of appeals or supreme court; two or three names can be submitted for county or district vacancies. Denver County is not part of the state system and this process does not apply to their judges.
There are two types of nominating commissions: (1) Supreme Court Nominating Commission and (2) judicial district nominating commissions. 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.
In contrast, there is a judicial district nominating commission for each of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts that selects nominees for district and county judicial vacancies. Each district nominating commission is chaired by a justice of the Supreme Court, who is a non-voting member of the commission.
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. In all districts with populations of more than 35,000, the voting members consist of three people admitted to practice law in Colorado and four people not admitted to practice law in Colorado. In judicial districts with populations under 35,000, at least four voting members are people not admitted to practice law in Colorado. It is determined by majority vote of the governor, attorney general and chief justice how many, if any, of the remaining three members will be persons admitted to practice law in Colorado.
Commission members serve six-year terms. Non-lawyers, who are the majority of every nominating commission, are appointed by the governor. Lawyer members are appointed by joint action of the governor, attorney general, and chief justice.
Colorado’s method for appointment of judges focuses on the qualifications of judges and has specific time limits controlling when the commission and the governor must act. Within 30 days after a vacancy occurs, the commission must meet; select its nominees based on written applications, recommendations, and personal interviews; and submit the names 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.
To see the overview, commission rules or commission roster for your judicial district, the court of appeals, or the supreme court, select the appropriate link below. If you are not sure which judicial district includes your county of residence, you may also see a map of the judicial districts in Colorado.
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