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Judge loses retention vote

Thompson to be replaced; James to continue on the bench

Paul Shockley

Joel Thompson, 14th Judicial District court judge, became the fifth judge to be voted out of office since Colorado implemented retention votes for judges in 1990.

Moffat County voters called for the ouster of Thompson, whose district covers Moffat, Routt and Grand counties, by a margin of 2,328 votes to 1,441.

Routt and Moffat counties voted not to retain Thompson, while 57 percent of voters in Grand County approved keeping him in office.

On the same ballot, voters said Moffat County Court Judge Mary Lynne James should be retained for the bench.

Thompson, named to the 14th Judicial District bench in 1994, received the district’s first “do not retain” recommendation from that organization’s judicial performance commission earlier this year.

A 14th Judicial District committee will now have 30 days from the election’s certification to select two to three possible successors for Thompson. Those names will be forwarded to Gov. Bill Owens who will have 15 days after receiving the list to appoint a new judge.

Thompson’s term was set to expire in January.

James, meanwhile, was recommended for retention by a margin of 2,807 votes to 1,441.

“It’s a job I’ve done for a long time and one for which I still have enthusiasm for,” James said Tuesday.

She was appointed to the county bench in 1984.

“You always have some concern, in part because these are races where you really can’t campaign,” James added.

James said a top concern continues to be managing the county’s combined court system in view of state budget cuts, which have totaled about $90,000 across the 14th Judicial District.

Court clerks have been forced to take one-day furloughs and several legal assistance programs have been axed in recent months, while nobody knows how deep a second round of cuts will go.

“There are some areas in which we won’t be able to serve the public as well,” she said. “But we’re going to try to be creative in order to do the job with the budget restrictions we have.”

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.


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