For the third time, Colorado Springs Judge David Prince is one of three finalists for a position on the Colorado Supreme Court.
Colorado’s procedure for filling Supreme Court vacancies is simple and equitable. As mandated by a 1966 constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission recommends three candidates to serve as judges for the Supreme Court. The chief justice of the Supreme Court chairs the commission and is a non-voting member. This commission includes one citizen admitted to practice law in Colorado and one citizen not admitted to practice law residing in each of the state’s seven congressional districts, and one additional citizen not admitted to practice law in Colorado.
Following the retirement of Justice Gregory Hobbs, the commission submitted three candidates to the Governor on June 10. Gov. Hickenlooper must pick one within 15 days.
This procedure removes politics from the process, and that’s a good thing. It also assures that none but highly qualified candidates can make it to the final three, and that’s an extremely good thing.
But it doesn’t remove all bias from the system.
In a recent email, Stephannie Finley made some interesting observations.
“The court has seven justices,” Finley noted. “All remaining six spent their professional lives in the Denver metro area… the Colorado Supreme Court should include people from the rest of Colorado for perspective. The justices are the administrative leaders for the full state court system and, therefore, need a statewide perspective. Colorado Springs has the busiest single courthouse in the state, but no lawyer from COS has been on the court since the 1950’s. The present justices spent the bulk of their careers in the public sector. 70 percent of the practice of law is in the private sector…Prince knows the law and the courts as a “consumer” of services because he was a business person helping run a multi-office, multi state law firm with an annual budget over $100 million. He had all the headaches of HR, negotiating new health coverage, suppliers, banking relationships, market forces…the court needs that kind of insight.”
Good points all – so I took at look at Judge Prince’s CV (attached). I had only one question: Does this guy ever sleep? It’s amazingly impressive. Prince is presently the deputy chief judge of the Fourth Judicial District. Prince and the chief judge are “are the administrative leaders of the district and manage the single largest district courthouse in the state with 91,000 cases filed annually, 46 judicial officers, just under 400 personnel, and an annual budget of over $23 million.”
Prince has authored or co-authored dozens of publications, has served on dozens of boards and commissions, and was “ranked number one among Colorado trials judges standing for retention, Colorado Judicial Performance Commission (2008).”
Apparently, that’s not enough.
“I have a wife and two children ages 8 and 11,” Prince wrote. “I spend most of my free time with my family doing typical kid things. We like to build things and have built a network of tree houses in our backyard with rope bridges and an aerial chair system linking them. I used to be a search-and-rescue pilot and spent a summer barnstorming the United States in an open cockpit biplane. For a creative outlet, I write and tell stories with the Story Project.”
The three candidates presented to the Governor are all impressive. Any would be a worthy choice, but Prince seems particularly well suited to the job.
And face it – don’t we want a biplane flying, tree house building, order of the coif graduating, historic preservation award-winning, Colorado Springs residing Supreme Court Justice?