By Matt Masich, STATE BILL COLORADO
DENVER — If you aren’t going to use your judgeship, why not let someone else have it?
A bill introduced in the Colorado Senate last week would add a district judgeship in the western slope’s 7th Judicial District while taking away a vacant district judgeship in the 1st Judicial District, which comprises Jefferson and Gilpin counties. The bill gets its first hearing on Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The 1st Judicial District got funding for three new district judgeships in 2007, but two of those remained unfilled due to space constraints. If SB11-028 were to pass, one of these unfilled judgeships would to the 7th Judicial District, which comprises Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties.
The change would be budget-neutral.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gail Schwartz and Republican Rep. Don Coram, who represent legislative districts that lie within the 7th Judicial District.
The judge-shift was requested by the Colorado Judicial Department, said spokesman Rob McCallum.
“Simply put, there was a greater and growing need for another judge in the seventh judicial district,” McCallum said by e-mail.
District court case filings have increased 25 percent over the last four years, according to Judicial Department data. Civil cases, excluding foreclosures and tax liens, have grown nearly 63 percent at the same time.
As a result, the district court is staffed at just 60 percent of the level recommended by the state court administrator’s office.
The 1st Judicial District court management gave its blessing to giving away the judgeship, according to a Judicial Department fact sheet.