Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday announced the appointment of Paul Dunkelman to serve as a judge in the 5th Judicial District, which includes Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties.
Dunkleman will fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Chief Judge R. Thomas Moorhead, who is retiring from the bench.
Dunkelman was raised in Goshen, N.Y., and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Colgate University. He earned his juris doctor from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver.
Dunkelman moved to Summit County in 1994 and currently practices family, criminal, civil and business law with Carlson, Carlson & Dunkelman LLC in Frisco. He also is an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College and a prosecuting attorney for the town of Leadville.
Although not a lifelong career goal, he said, a judge appointment has been on Dunkelman’s mind since his first job out of law school when he served as a clerk in the 2nd Judicial District for the Hon. Lynne M. Hufnagel and the Hon. Paul A. Markson Jr.
“It’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about, but it’s not a job you necessarily set out to get,” Dunkelman said. “It’s a job I always thought about in terms of developing the skills and experience necessary to put myself in a position to get an appointment.”
The Colorado Supreme Court manages the candidate process for district court judge vacancies, Moorhead said. A local nomination committee of seven people interviews the initial pool of candidates and narrows it to three candidates, who are then recommended to the governor.
The governor conducts his own round of interviews and ultimately makes the final decision.
Although Moorhead did not participate in the candidate process, Dunkelman has tried numerous civil, criminal and domestic cases in Moorhead’s courtroom over the years. That experience led Moorhead to give his post-appointment endorsement of Dunkelman.
“The thing that really gives a person the opportunity to be successful is their demeanor,” Moorhead said. “One thing that we have worked very hard on (in the 5th Judicial District) is procedural fairness — making sure people feel they received a fair opportunity to be heard — and I think Paul is going to be outstanding in that regard.”
Judge Mark Thompson will succeed Moorhead as the next chief judge of the 5th Judicial District when Dunkelman’s appointment takes effect Nov. 30.
Moorhead plans to continue working as a mediator and arbiter with the Judicial Arbiter Group, a Denver-based company of 26 retired judges who provide dispute resolution services.