Moffat County Locals: The late Judge Claus Hume remembered for distinguished career
December 23, 2016
Craig — One of Craig's most distinguished citizens, the Honorable Judge Claus Hume, passed away last month in Westminster at the age of 81, but he left a lasting impression on the place where he launched his illustrious legal career and raised his family.
Originally from Burlington, Colorado, Claus landed in Craig in 1965 after graduating from law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He worked as a general practice lawyer and assistant district attorney before being elected district attorney for the 14th Judicial District in 1972. He was then appointed a district judge and by 1978, was appointed chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, a role he filled for 10 years.
"I started as an assistant DA in '81… And I was in front of (Claus) every day for years before he went to the court of appeals," said Randy Klauzer, now a private practice attorney in Steamboat Springs. "He was a very good judge, he was very insightful, very balanced. He wanted to start court at 8 a.m. Not 8:05, not 8:15. He was very task-oriented… He demanded excellence, he truly did."
Claus was also a dedicated family man. With his first wife, Jane Hume, he raised two children in Craig, Mikala and KC, now more publicly known as Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume.
"He was a great father," KC said. "I learned a lot from him: responsibility, commitment, the importance of family."
The family spent a lot of time adventuring throughout the state with close friends from Boulder, rafting on the Green River and fishing to attending Broncos games. Later in life, Claus applied his love for travel to more international destinations such as Spain and Australia, where he traveled with his second wife of 29 years, Julia.
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In 1988, the judge was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in Denver, and within one month, was appointed Chief Judge of that court.
"I thought that was pretty special," KC said. "To me that speaks volumes to his ability, skill set and dedication for that appointment to the chief justice position in only a month."
Klauzer, too, described Claus' passion and skill for understanding the headier side of the law and the demands of the chief justice position.
"It takes a very special intellect to dedicate yourself to that level of intellectual scrutiny," Klauzer said. "It takes not only that, but an ability to manage. It's a very rarified skillset."
Claus held the position of chief judge for 15 years until he retired in 2003, at which time he was honored by then U.S. Representative Scott McInnis on the floor of the House of Representatives.
"He had a little of that cowboy flavor, that common sense," McInnis recalled, who now serves as a Mesa County commissioner. "He was really honorable and very well respected, so I was privileged to give a few words on the House floor."
Through his work in law enforcement, KC has occasionally encountered the true extent of the impact his father's work left not just locally, but throughout the state. He's had lawyers tell him of opinions they just read that were authored by Claus, and has even heard a past attorney general of the state of Colorado proclaim his deep respect for Claus.
"I believe that my father had a positive impact not only here in our community in Northwest Colorado, here in Moffat County, but a much more far-reaching impact across the state of Colorado," KC said. "It's humbling to still be a part of this community. It's my home all these years later even after my father left and… this has always been my home and will always be my home."