Chief Justice Nathan Coats to Retire
Justice Brian Boatright to serve as next chief, with Justice Monica Márquez next in line

by Law Week

The Colorado Supreme Court announced today that Chief Justice Nathan Coats will retire in January, when he reaches the Colorado Constitution’s mandatory retirement age of 72. Justice Brian Boatright will succeed him as chief justice.

Coats has served on the Colorado Supreme Court since 2000, after being appointed by Gov. Bill Owens, and he has served as chief justice since 2018. He has previously served as an appellate attorney in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for eight years and as chief appellate deputy district attorney for the 2nd Judicial District for 14 years.

The Justices of the Supreme Court have unanimously voted to move to shorter rotational terms for the office of Chief Justice, they announced in a judicial branch press release. The justices have selected Boatright to serve as chief justice upon Coats’s retirement and Justice Monica Márquez to serve as the next Chief Justice following Boatright. The court believes that announcing both selections now provides for continuity of leadership for the Judicial Branch, the press release states.

The court will issue a formal vacancy announcement with a request for applications to fill the Supreme Court vacancy later this year.

Boatright has prior experience as a trial court judge and with probation programs and policies. The Supreme Court believes that Boatright is well equipped to handle the current challenges facing Colorado trial courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related budget shortfalls. “I am humbled to lead the Judicial Branch in these extraordinary times,” Boatright said in the press release. “As Chief Justice, I plan to focus my energy on supporting our trial courts and probation departments as they continue to adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19  pandemic and safely conduct the important work of the Branch.”

“The Judicial Branch will be in good hands these next few years with Justice Boatright,” Márquez added. “I bring my support and extensive state government experience, and I’ll be running at full speed when Justice Boatright passes the baton.”

Boatright was born and raised in Colorado. He graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and received his law degree from the University of Denver. Boatright served as a deputy district attorney for more than nine years. In 1999,
Gov. Bill Owens appointed Boatright as a district court judge in the 1st Judicial District. Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed him to the Colorado Supreme Court in 2011. Boatright will be the 47th member of the court to serve as chief justice since
Colorado’s statehood in 1876.