Court to go on despite loss of chief judge |

Court to go on despite loss of chief judge

It will be business as usual in the 9th Judicial District Court because that’s the way Chief Judge T. Peter Craven would have wanted it.Craven, 65, of Carbondale, died Tuesday night while riding his bicycle in the Aspen area.”This is a huge loss,” said Martin Beeson, district attorney for the 9th Judicial District. “There’s a huge vacuum on the 9th Judicial bench. (Craven) was an intellectual giant and a man of great compassion.”Former chief judge Thomas Ossola was at the courthouse in Glenwood Springs Wednesday morning to meet with other judges and formulate a plan on how to move forward following the loss of Craven, according to Beeson.”We’re hoping the state will provide some senior judges, but the plan is to focus on the work,” Beeson said. “We’re confident that that’s exactly what Judge Craven would want us to do. But I don’t know how we’re going to deal with the emotional loss.”Judy Newbould has worked as Craven’s assistant since 1998.”He was just the best,” an emotional Newbould said Wednesday morning. “He was a wonderful judge and a wonderful man. I was fortunate to work with him.”The entire courthouse was in a state of shock upon learning of Craven’s death, but Beeson said business will go on and cases scheduled on the district docket will be heard.One of the larger cases before Craven was that of Robin Jay Clifton, 46, of Collbran, who has been charged with setting numerous fires in Rifle in the early morning hours of Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2005. Clifton is scheduled to appear in district court on July 7.According to Beeson, the governor will likely announce the vacancy of Craven’s position and call for applications, which will be narrowed down to three applicants who will be interviewed.”I suspect that given the importance of the position, it won’t take that long,” said Beeson, who took over as DA in January following a voter recall.In the meantime, Craven’s friends, family and co-workers are mourning his death.”Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for him in teaching me to be a better prosecutor,” Beeson said. “Or the depth of his compassion he had for each individual that came through this court. He was the voice of reason in this district and he will be greatly missed.”

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