Community says farewell to Craven |

Community says farewell to Craven

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Lawyers make their living with words and they used them to good effect Thursday afternoon in Glenwood Springs to say good-bye to an honored judge and friend. More than 300 people massed in the community ice rink – on a hot afternoon, cooled occasionally with but the barest breath of wind.Peter Craven, chief judge of the Ninth Judicial District, died Tuesday, June 20, in Aspen of a massive heart attack while doing one of the things he loved best, riding his bike.Judge Craven was remembered, not as “Your Honor,” but as “Pete,” a warm and compassionate man who loved a good joke and brought a keen intellect to the courtroom.

“He was good, he was damn good,” said District and now acting Chief Judge James Boyd, who described the way Pete Craven started a story about a lawyer who caught his attention in court.A good young lawyer lit him up, Boyd said.So did Craven’s love of the law. Presiding over jury selection, he would sometimes come down from the bench so he could be eye-to-eye with prospective jurors and put them at ease. He would give them a little history lesson, how juries came to be in England. He would start with the Battle of Hastings when the Normans invaded England, in 1066, and changed English law. He soon had them “on his side,” and usually had the jury seated by noon, Boyd said.”He made the rest of us who work for the Ninth Judicial District better judges, better clerks, better probation officers … better people,” Boyd said.

Again and again as colleagues stood up to speak about Pete Craven they thanked him for being a friend, a mentor, a leader.Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court praised Craven’s devotion to the law.”Pete’s dedication and passion for justice went beyond the walls of the courtroom,” she said.In 2002, he was awarded the Colorado Judicial Institute Award of Excellence, and although he was pleased with the honor, “he was a modest person and was also somewhat embarrassed by the recognition,” she said. “Judge Craven was an exceptional public servant and an exceptional man.”

Those who perhaps knew him best besides his family and close friends, court reporter Sheila Schiesser and judicial assistant Judy Newbould, spoke about their boss.”He had a mug that said, Take the Law Into Your Own Hands, Hug a Judge,” Newbould said.She laughed at how he would forget to turn the court tape recorder on and off despite repeated reminders.Schiesser said he loved Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck jokes.”In chambers, Judy and I called him Pete,” she said.

She also spoke of the legacy he would leave behind.”What was so awesome about him was the way he treated kids” involved in divorce cases, she said. “They would open up to him like he was their new best friend. I’m sure Judge Craven left a lasting impression on every child who came through that court.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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