Hickenlooper taps Denver judge for Supreme Court
DENVER – A Denver judge with experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney will become Colorado’s newest Supreme Court justice in January.
Denver District Judge William Hood on Friday received Gov. John Hickenlooper’s nomination to the state’s highest court, where he will replace Chief Justice Michael Bender.
Hickenlooper chose Hood from a list of three “remarkable” finalists who he said were nearly evenly matched. But Hood stood out.
“He’s consistently demonstrated an ability to fairly apply the law while administering justice,” Hickenlooper said. “He has a reputation for collaboration and being able to bring people together.”
Hood spoke only briefly at the announcement in the state Capitol, but he said he was humbled.
“I look forward to doing all that I can to show that I deserve the vote of confidence the governor has given me,” Hood said.
Hood has had a chance to rule on a few statewide matters from his seat on the Denver District Court, where cases challenging state laws are filed.
In 2010, he upheld a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rule that requires waste pits to have a waterproof liner. A Western Slope gas-production company had wanted the rule overturned.
Later that year, Hood ruled in favor of gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, allowing him to remain on the ballot with the American Constitution Party. Republicans had challenged Tancredo’s late entry into the race as a third-party candidate, but Hood wrote that it wasn’t appropriate for the court to get involved in a political matter.
Hickenlooper went on to win the 2010 race with 51 percent of the vote. Tancredo divided the conservative vote and took second, while Republican candidate Dan Maes finished a distant third.
Former Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, appointed Hood to the district court in 2007. Before that, he was a private attorney for the Denver firm Isaacson Rosenbaum. He also has served as a deputy district attorney in the 18th Judicial District in Denver’s southern suburbs.
Bender will step down on his birthday, Jan. 7, 2014, when he turns 72, the mandatory retirement age for state judges. The remaining justices have elected Justice Nancy Rice to be the new chief justice.
Hood’s appointment does not require confirmation by the Legislature. Unlike many states where judges are elected, Colorado’s process attempts to minimize politics. A nominating committee examines applications and picks three finalists to forward to the governor.
“We sometimes don’t appreciate it. This system keeps politics out of it,” Bender said.