Dec 082010
Authors: Erin Udell

A seven-member nominating commission has decided on six final candidates for consideration to fill the seats of deposed judges Jolene Blair and Terry Gilmore.

With the judges leaving the bench by Jan. 11, Julie Kunce Field, Stephen Enderlin Howard, John A. Jostad, Norman Allan Townsend and Matthew Richard Zehe, all Fort Collins residents, along with David M. Herrera of Bellvue were selected as candidates worthy to be sent on to the governor for further consideration.

Early last month in the 2010 Midterm Election, voters in the 8th Judicial District declined the retention of Blair and Gilmore, who, as original prosecutors in Timothy Masters’ murder trial, were censured by an arm of the Colorado Supreme Court for not making sure all evidence collected by police was turned in to Masters’ defense team.

In the first election since Masters’ conviction was overturned and he was awarded a $10 million settlement, the people spoke, saying they wanted Blair and Gilmore gone.

“When there’s a vacancy coming up, whether through retirement or whatever, we will announce that vacancy and people can send applications into the nominating commission,” said Jon Sarche, a public information coordinator for the Colorado State Court Administrator’s Office.

In an attempt to have the decision-making process be as nonpartisan as possible, no more than four members of the same political party can serve on the commission together.

This year’s commission included four Democrats, two Republicans and one unaffiliated.

Of the seven members, four are non-attorneys appointed by the governor and three are attorneys appointed by joint action of the governor, the attorney general and the chief justice.

As part of the application requirements, candidates could only be considered if they lived in the district they planned to serve, as well as being a practicing attorney for at least five years.

“The commission always looks at their (the candidates) background in law and their reputation in the legal profession among other attorneys and judges,” said Justice Greg Hobbs of the Colorado Judicial Branch.

The commission also looked for integrity in the candidates, as well as the ability to control their temper and listen well, Hobbs said.

Governor Ritter will have about two weeks from today to decide which candidates will best suit the job through additional interviews. After this period, he will appoint two of the nominees as district court judges for the 8th Judicial District.

“In watching the governor, he tends to take the full 15 days (from Dec. 8) and go through all the due diligence that he needs to,” said Rob McCallum from the Office of the State Court Administrator.

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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