Commission names three finalists for district judge
Finalists for the 9th Judicial District judge vacancy left open by the death of Chief Judge T. Peter Craven were named Tuesday.The 9th Judicial District Nominating Commission met in Glenwood Springs on Monday to interview a slate of candidates, settling on three finalists. Gov. Bill Owens has 15 days from Tuesday to name one of the finalists to the bench. Finalists are Glenwood lawyer Mark E. Hamilton, Assistant Garfield County Attorney Denise K. Lynch and Public Defender Jamie J. Roth.
Intellectual curiosity is driving Hamilton to become a judge. The Washington, D.C-area native and water law attorney said he wants to learn more about all the areas of law a district judge handles. “I view this as a lifelong opportunity that leaves me fully occupied,” he said of the intellectual challenges that district judges encounter, and thrive on, daily. Hamilton graduated in 1994 from the University of Virginia with a law degree and an undergraduate degree in business. His first legal job was with the Grand Junction law firm Williams, Turner and Holmes. He left the firm in 1998 to move to Carbondale and join the Caloia, Houpt and Hamilton law firm in Glenwood Springs, where he works today.
Hamilton is the Carbondale town attorney and vice chair of the Water Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. Lynch has worked for Garfield County since 2002 and practiced law privately for more than 20 years. A native of Ypsilanti, Mich., Lynch graduated from Michigan State University and, in 1982, received her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. Lynch said she wants to be the next district judge here because she wants “to administer justice.”Judges are extremely important, and I think I’d be fair, I think I’d be impartial,” she said. “I think I know the law pretty well.”
Lynch recently received media attention in June for representing Garfield County in Denver U.S. District Court in the American Civil Liberties Union’s case against Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. The ACLU sought a restraining order against Vallario, which would have forced him to allow greater lawyer access to the jail’s inmates. The county won the case because U.S. District Judge Walker Miller said the ACLU had not presented adequate evidence that Vallario’s jail policies were inappropriate. If Owens names Roth to the bench, she will follow the legacy of Craven, who was one of the region’s first public defenders.
Roth has served as a public defender since she graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law nearly nine years ago. A native of Greeley and a graduate of Colorado State University, Roth said she applied for the district judgeship because it is an opportunity to “move into a lot of different areas of the law.””Personally, I also think that being a judge is a unique responsibility, and I take that very seriously, and I would like to have that chance to serve this community,” she said.
Roth called the 9th Judicial District a diverse and interesting area to serve because of its growing industry and traditional Colorado values. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Former Carbondale trustee Katrina Byars said she wants to bring a voice of environmental sustainability to the commission, and believes her opponent has served long enough.