Gov. Hickenlooper to pick new Ninth Judicial District judge
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The 9th Judicial District is likely to have a fifth judge appointed to the local bench some time in early June as part of a nominating process involving a panel of local attorneys and others.
The district’s nominating commission on May 17 nominated three area attorneys — John Neiley and Scott Turner, of Glenwood Springs, and Colleen Scissors, of Basalt — to fill a judgeship created during the Colorado General Assembly’s recent session.
The names of the nominees have been sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has 15 days from the May 20 announcement of the nominations to name a new judge, according to the state constitution.
The 9th Judicial District encompasses Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.
Currently Chief Judge James Boyd and District Judges Denise Lynch, Gail Nichols and Daniel Petre serve the district.
Nichols is the newest judge in the 9th District. A former deputy district attorney working out of the Aspen office of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office, she was appointed to the bench in 2008 when the state Legislature at that time created a new judgeship to deal with a heavier case load in the district.
Both Boyd and Petre were appointed to the bench in 2002, and Boyd became chief judge in 2006.
The judgeship created in the 2013 legislative session also was viewed as needed in order to come to grips with the district’s rising number of cases, both criminal and civil. Whoever is appointed is scheduled to take over his or her new duties starting July 1.
John Neiley, 54, practices mostly civil law from a Glenwood Springs office he shares with his brother, Rick, and another attorney, Eugene Alder.
Neiley told the Post Independent on Tuesday that he came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2006 after practicing law in Summit County for 14 years.
He said 90 percent of his practice deals with civil law, such as real estate, land use, transactional matters and setting up homeowners associations, among other topics.
“I think the judge’s position is such that you have to be able to do it all,” he said, acknowledging that he will need to brush up on his criminal statutes if he gets the nod from the governor.
Neiley is married with two teenage kids attending school in Glenwood Springs. He is due for an interview by the governor May 29 in Denver.
Scissors, who has been practicing in Grand Junction for the past 15 years, said Tuesday that she has practiced predominantly criminal defense since moving to Colorado in 1998 and “not very much” civil law. Before moving to Colorado, she lived in San Francisco, where she handled some personal-injury cases on the plaintiff’s side.
But she expressed no concern about her lack of experience in civil law, explaining, “There’s nothing harder about civil law than there is about criminal work. You have to look up the cases and do the work.”
She is in the process of closing her Grand Junction practice and moving into a home she already owns in Basalt, noting that she has been splitting her time between Grand Junction and Basalt.
“I’ve been burning up the pavement for the past three years,” she said, noting that she is looking forward to settling in the Roaring Fork Valley regardless of whether she gets the judgeship.
Scissors, 60, is single with two children.
Turner, chief deputy district attorney for the 9th District, recently moved to Glenwood Springs after new DA Sherry Caloia hired him from his former job as assistant DA in the 5th Judicial District.
While he has been a prosecutor since 2005, starting in Colorado Springs, he said that in his early days as an attorney he did primarily civil work, while working and living in Kansas City, Mo., from 1993 to 2005.
He said he was surprised to learn of his nomination for the judgeship.
“I was,” he said, “and I was very honored that they sent my name to the governor.”
He has been at his current job for only a few months, and he conceded that he has some qualms about moving on so soon.
“I think it’s a natural progression,” he said. “Being a judge is something I’ve always considered doing in my career.”
But, he added, “I enjoy prosecuting, and this is a great office to work for. I’ve enjoyed working with the people here.”
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