Owens appointees make up half of state district court judges
December 12, 2005
DENVER – More than half the state’s 138 district court judges have been appointed by Gov. Bill Owens.Since 1999, Owens has appointed 72 of the judges as their predecessors stepped down, records show. Of the 16 judges on the Colorado Court of Appeals, nine were appointed by Owens.One of Owens’ next appointments will be to fill the spot of state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Kourlis, who resigned last week. It will be his second appointment to the high court.A majority of Owens’ appointments have been Republicans, irking some critics, but Owens contends he has restored “a more conservative balance” to the courts after 24 years of Democratic governors.Meanwhile Frank Plaut, a retired judge and former president of the Colorado Bar Association, said he was concerned that former criminal prosecutors make up more than half of Owens’ appointments because many judges must deal with civil cases.”You can get your arms around criminal law pretty well. But civil law requires a very steep learning curve because the cases are more complex,” Plaut said. “It’s difficult for someone with a background in criminal law.”Owens said he typically looks for a judge who will be tough on crime.”A prosecutorial background can be useful. I think it’s important to look for a judge who truly understands the impact of crime on society,” he said.District court judges are appointed to six-year terms while Court of Appeals judges are appointed to terms of eight years.