ASPEN - A bill to add two new judgeships and support staff to the 5th and 9th Judicial districts passed the State House this week on a vote of 62 to 2.
HB13-1035, sponsored by Aspen's legislator, State Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, would fulfill the Judicial Department's request for two new district judges and staff for the 5th and 9th Judicial Districts, both in Rep. Hamner's House district. The two judicial districts include Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Lake, Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.
The 5th Judicial District has the lowest district-court judge-staffing level in Colorado, with just less than 70 percent of full staffing, according to the state government. The 9th Judicial District has the second lowest with 73 percent of full staffing.
Hamner said this bill will lessen the burden on the courts and expedite court cases.
"Right now, these district judges have extremely heavy caseloads, and this bill will help ensure every judge has and is able to give the proper time and attention to their cases," Hamner said in a statement. "This bill will make our judicial system more efficient and speed up the process for people going through the court system in those areas."
The 5th Judicial District last received a new district judge in 2005 and since has grown its caseload by 71 percent. The 9th Judicial District last received a new district judge in 2009 and since has increased its caseload by 68 percent.
The bill will move on to the State Senate, where it needs two-thirds of the votes for approval. This bill has no impact on the state's general fund because salaries and other expenses will be paid from court costs and fees.