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6 qualified men: Judicial field narrowed

Greg Masse

Finalists for the positions of Ninth Judicial District judge and Garfield County judge were announced Wednesday by the Colorado State Judicial Branch.

The field was narrowed to three candidates for each position – all men – by the Ninth Judicial District Nominating Commission, which met Monday and Tuesday in Glenwood Springs.

The two candidates who are appointed as judges by Colorado Gov. Bill Owens will replace Judge J.E DeVilbiss on the district bench and Judge Vic Zerbi on the county bench.

Two Glenwood Springs residents, Kenneth Henry Jaynes and Daniel B. Petre, and one Snowmass Village resident, James Berkley Boyd, were selected as the final three candidates to replace DeVilbiss.

For the Garfield County judgeship, which has been held by Zerbi for more than 22 years, the finalists are Ruben Manuel Hernandez and Paul H. Metzger, both of Glenwood Springs; and Frederick Walker Gannett, of Basalt.

Owens will make the final decision on the two appointments by Aug. 22. The new judges will start their new jobs on Jan. 15, the day after DeVilbiss and Zerbi step down.

Petre was born at Valley View Hospital when it was located at the Hot Springs Pool, was raised in Glenwood Springs and is a 1969 graduate of Glenwood Springs High School. He now serves as the county magistrate.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College, then entered a graduate program at the University of Northern Colorado to study English and counseling. He next took a year off before enrolling at Southern Methodist University’s law school in Dallas.

After accepting the job as magistrate, Petre had just six weeks to close up his private law practice after 22 years of work.

In his 2 1/2 years as magistrate, Petre has presided over Garfield County’s child welfare docket and divorce cases that don’t involve lawyers. In cases where divorcing couples can’t settle their differences, he may hold a trial. Or the couple may elect to have a judge hear their case. Petre also serves as the settlement judge for civil cases.

“I’m familiar with the district and the people, and I kind of see this as an opportunity to do more for the people of the Valley,” Petre said.

Hernandez is a former municipal judge in Greeley and prosecutor in the San Luis Valley’s 12th Judicial District.

“Working in the courthouse, you see the kind of jobs that are there. I enjoyed my experience as a municipal court judge,” he said.

Hernandez, who has been living in Glenwood Springs for just two years, said he’s honored to make the final cut for county judge after being here for such a short time.

“It’s kind of a recognition from the local community,” he said.

Boyd, a partner in the Aspen law firm Boyd and Bazil, has been a civil litigator in the Roaring Fork Valley for 20 years. He said the challenge of being a district judge lured him to apply for the opening.

“I was excited about the challenge of taking on the role of trying to seek out fairness in the process,” Boyd said. “I’m honored to be picked. I know there were some very strong candidates.”

Jaynes, a partner in the law firm Worrell, Griffith, Durrett and Jaynes P.C., said he sought the Ninth District judge position as a way to give back to the community. He’s practiced law since 1980, moving to Glenwood Springs in 1983.

“I feel a lot of respect for this community and I feel a lot of appreciation in even being chosen in the final three,” he said. “It’s a fun process. I just enjoy being involved in law.”

Metzger, a Colorado native who moved from Littleton to Glenwood Springs in 1990, is another county judge candidate with judicial experience – he’s a part-time municipal judge in New Castle.

In addition to his judging duties, Metzger has his own law practice.

“I’ve always been interested in that type of position,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a good relationship with the people who work over in the courthouse. I think it would be a comfortable transition.”

Gannett is a defense attorney who lives and works in Basalt. Gannett was unavailable for comment Wednesday because he had jury duty in Eagle County.

Gannett handles mostly criminal defense for his private practice, but he also dabbles in family law and civil litigation.

If Gannett is appointed to the Garfield County judge position, he would have to move to Garfield County.


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