The Colorado Judicial Institute held its annual awards dinner Thursday at the History Colorado Center in Denver, where it recognized five members of the bench from around the state, including the late U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel, who died in May.
The evening’s program kicked off with opening remarks from Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard Gabriel, filling in for Chief Justice Nathan Coats, who was scheduled to speak but couldn’t attend.
Gabriel spoke about the Our Courts program, a joint endeavor by CJI and the Colorado Bar Association, and its mission to educate adults about the state’s courts, judge selection process and rule of law. The civics education program recently expanded into high schools, and Gabriel recognized two teachers — Whitney Smith and Leslie Hamdorf — as the “driving force of the program.”
“They really taught us how to teach kids, and they made it successful,” said Gabriel, who chairs the Our Courts executive committee.
Former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender presented the night’s awards, starting with the 2019 Judicial Excellence Awards honoring three members of the state bench.