Andrews sworn in as new Pitkin County Court judge

Ninth Judicial District Chief Judge James Boyd swears in new Pitkin County Judge Ashley Andrews inside the Pitkin County Courthouse on Monday. From left are Ashley Andrews’ mother, Marti Andrews, Andrews, District Judge Chris Seldin, Boyd and former District Judge Gail Nichols. (Jason Auslander/The Aspen Times)

One era ended and another began Monday in Pitkin County Court as Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely passed the baton to Judge Ashley Andrews.

Ninth Judicial District Court Chief Judge James Boyd presented Andrews, 36, with a plaque of the “new judge’s creed” about noon in the District Courtroom, then officially swore her into office before Andrews’ mother helped her into her black judicial robe for the first time.

“Judge Ely really was an inspiration for me in this position,” Andrews said to a small audience of family, friends and professional colleagues. She praised Fernandez-Ely’s “compassion, patience and willingness to think outside the box” during her 21 years on the bench and said she had “enormous shoes to fill.”

Looking on in the room were former Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols, District Judge Chris Seldin, who replaced Nichols, as well as Fernandez-Ely and Boyd. Other judges from the 9th Judicial District observed the ceremony through Zoom, including District Judges Denise Lynch, John Neiley and Anne Norrdin, as well as Garfield County Judges Paul Metzger and Jonathan Pototsky.

District Judge Chris Seldin, former Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely and former District Judge Gail Nichols look on as Chief District Judge James Boyd prepares to swear in Ashley Andrews as Fernandez-Ely’s replacement Monday. Other Ninth Judicial District judges observed the ceremony via Zoom on the TV monitor. (Jason Auslander/The Aspen Times)

Andrews’ husband, Kevin, also a lawyer; her young daughter, Georgia; her parents; her in-laws; and a smattering of others who work in the court system also attended Monday’s swearing-in.

“It only takes a moment to take an oath, but it is a life-changing decision to do it,” Boyd said. “She has the opportunity and responsibility to acknowledge … that she accepts the public trust being place with her today to follow the rule of law.”

Andrews praised Fernandez-Ely — as well as her new colleagues in the 9th Judicial District — as judges who are able to “see people as more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.”

Andrews grew up in Oregon and Ohio and attended Penn State University before moving to Denver to participate in the Teach for America program. After graduating from the University of Colorado Law School, she worked at the Denver Public Defender’s Office for six years before moving to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2019 to work for the Public Defender’s Office based in Glenwood Springs.

She and her family live in Snowmass Village.

Fernandez-Ely officially retired Friday after more than two decades on the bench. She has been credited with creating programs to address substance abuse and mental health in defendants, as well as partnering with law enforcement and other parts of the criminal justice system to help people gain access to rehabilitation and end cycles of addiction and crime.

Andrews has said she wants to continue Fernandez-Ely’s legacy of helping people escape the criminal justice system.

Pitkin County Court handles all misdemeanor cases, which includes domestic violence, drunken driving, minor assaults and traffic infractions. Andrews’ first day on the bench is Tuesday, when she will handle the court’s regular weekly docket for the first time.


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