Commissioned for Justice

Former Colorado Supreme Court justices talk about commission nominating process

The Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet Nov. 27 and 28 to interview and choose nominees to replace Justice Allison Eid, whose appointment to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was effective Nov. 3. The commission keeps its selection operations confidential until it submits nominees to the governor for appointment. The Supreme Court’s chief justice serves as the nominating commission’s non-voting chair, and while each has control over how he or she conducts the interview and nomination process, there are a few areas where the commission might naturally focus its attention.

Former Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who sat at the head of the court from 1998 until her retirement in 2010, said the Supreme Court Nominating Commission looks out for candidates with general expertise. She said she personally preferred to have justices with a diverse array of backgrounds, whether from different levels of courts, prosecution or private practice.

“What I think will happen is that Justice (Nancy) Rice is going to look at the court and see (if) there are particular fields of expertise that you want,” she said. “Right now you’ve got (Richard) Gabriel, who came from the Court of Appeals, so that sort of slot is checked off, and you’ve got a lot of former trial judges that are there.”

She explained when the commission examines a Supreme Court candidate who hasn’t been a judge before, excellent researching and writing skills are key, because they give clues into a candidate’s approach to thinking about problems.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the November 27, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.