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2015 Colorado Judicial Excellence Award winners announced

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DENVER – The Colorado Judicial Department announced today it has recognized five individuals and one team in its 2015 Judicial Excellence Awards, recognizing employees for exemplary work contributing to the high quality of service provided throughout the state’s 22 judicial districts.

“The department’s workers are our greatest asset,” said Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice. “Through the JEA program, we honor those whose work upholds the high standards we expect of ourselves and which the public deserves from us.”

The 2015 Judicial Officer of the Year Award went to the Hon. Carlos A. Samour Jr., chief judge of the 18th Judicial District, in part for his capable handling of one of the most highly publicized and notorious criminal cases in Colorado history. During the four-month trial, he not only issued clear orders and kept an orderly courtroom, he also kept up his administrative responsibilities as chief judge, making sound and informed decisions after listening to the concerns of all those involved.

The Court Employee of the Year Award went to Problem Solving Court Coordinator Amanda Myers of the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties). During the past year, she worked to revamp the mental health court, establish peer-mentor programs in the adult drug and veterans courts, an expansion of service that gave the district’s problem solving courts the ability to serve nearly twice as many clients in need and broadened community partnerships to provide additional and necessary services to clients and their families.

Jeff Smith of the 18th Judicial District Probation Department was honored as the Probation Employee of the Year, in part for his participation on the district’s Safety Committee, leadership and training in probation officer safety, and his work in case management. Among the initiatives he launched was a program using e-mail blasts to remind staff of specific safety techniques and strategies.

Winning the State Court Administrator’s Office Employee of the Year award was Linda Reilly of the Division of Court Services for her skills in problem solving and her willingness to locate resources to accomplish her team’s duties, take on additional work when necessary and make suggestions to improve efficiency and customer service.

Ryan Mills, a supervisor in the 4th Judicial District (El Paso and Teller counties) Probation Department, was named Manager of the Year for his hands-on management style, leading by example and becoming an integral part of committees that affect probation officers in his unit.

The 18th Judicial District’s Probation Department’s Motivational Interviewing Training Team won the Outstanding Team of the Year Award. The team – Kym Kushel, Erin Cooley, Farrah Pope, Ann Welty, Kelly McGaffick and Arturo Villa – determined that despite training in motivational interviewing, their district’s probation officers and supervisors were not integrating the skills into their daily work. The team designed a three-year plan to develop curriculum and train employees in the core and strategic skills of motivational interviewing. They also developed and instructed booster trainings, developed a certification process and marketed the trainings within the district – all while continuing to effectively manage their caseloads of approximately 100 probationers each.

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