A profile of Judge Jackson | CraigDailyPress.com

A profile of Judge Jackson

Patrick Kelly

Judge R. Brooke Jackson sits the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Judge R. Brooke Jackson received his judicial commission Sept. 1, 2011, after being appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by President Barack Obama the year before.

Recently, Jackson has been in the spotlight for his May ruling that threatened to stop work at Colowyo coal mine in Northwest Colorado.

Siding with environmental-advocacy group WildEarth Guardians, Jackson ordered the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to redo a 2007 environmental assessment for Colowyo's South Taylor Pit within 120 days.

If OSMRE does not complete the assessment by Sept. 6, Colowyo's mining plan will be voided and operations halted — putting 220 miners of work.

Jackson's ruling has created a panic in coal-reliant Northwest Colorado communities such as Craig and Meeker and earned him the label "radical liberal judge" from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire provides insight into Jackson's history before the Colowyo ruling.

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Born in Bozeman, Montana, Jackson was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point out of high school but failed the physical because of a vision problem. Instead, he attended Dartmouth College where he participated in Army ROTC. His vision problem prevented him from completing the ROTC program, receiving a commission.

Jackson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1972. During his three years at Harvard, Jackson worked part-time as the debate team's assistant coach.

In 1998, Jackson was appointed to the First Judicial District of Colorado, which covers Gilpin and Jefferson Counties, and became chief judge in 2003.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, interviewed Jackson in 2009 after he applied to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The senators recommended Jackson, along with five other applicants, to the White House.

Jackson was appointed to the federal district court by Obama in 2010 and confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate. Udall and Bennet applauded the decision.

"Judge Jackson has shown to be a thoughtful jurist, one that I believe will serve Colorado and the country well on the federal bench," Bennet said in a statement in 2010.

Bennet was criticized by NRSC for his role in Jackson's appointment, despite actively participating in efforts to keep Colowyo open.

Adam Bozzi, Bennet's communications director, said in a statement that Bennet has been working tirelessly to preserve Colowyo's jobs and the senator will not respond to political attacks regarding Jackson.

Jackson's ruling in the Colowyo case lines up with his 2014 decision that canceled one of Arch Coal's federal leases in the North Folk Valley.

Similar to the Colowyo decision, Jackson determined that federal agencies failed to take into account climate change when forming plans to develop federal land.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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