The retirement of Nathan B. Coates, the last Republican judge appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court, road ahead of Governor. Jared Polis is making his first choice for the Supreme Court.
Police, a Democrat, is expected to announce his choice this week. Former governor. John Hickenlooper has appointed five current judges and one former governor. Bill Ritter named one to the seven-member committee.
Police will choose from among three finalists chosen by a nonpartisan committee. They all have decades of experience practicing law in Colorado, although only one Maria Birkenkotter has previous experience as a judge. The other two, Andrea Wang and Timothy MacDonald, are longtime attorneys.
The Colorado Sun reviewed the applications of the finalists to get a better idea of their backgrounds and why they want to be judges on the Colorado Supreme Court. This is what we found:
Judge Maria Birkenkotter
Maria Birkenkotter currently works in the Judicial Referee Group, which is made up of former judges. Prior to that, she served as chief judge for the twenty judicial district, which includes Boulder County, from 2013 to 2017. She also served as a judge on the district court.
Birkenkutter, University of Denver Sturm Law School graduate, He was also a finalist To fill a position on the Colorado Supreme Court in 2018, but Hickenlooper Carlos A. Samur instead.
If set to the bench, Birkenkotter will return to Colorado Supreme Court; She worked with former Judge Howard Kirchbaum from 1987 to 1988.
In 2016 Berkenkotter presided over the high-profile trial of Dynel Lane, who was found guilty of cutting a fetus from another woman in Longmont. Birkencutter Sentenced to Lin To 100 years in prison.
She highlighted the issue in her petition to the Supreme Court. “This was an emotionally charged and difficult case that presented a number of difficult cases,” she wrote.
In her application, Birkenkotter said her specialty is civil litigation, but on numerous occasions she has represented Colorado in federal courts in both criminal and appeals cases, the latter of which are central to what she will do as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court.
She wrote, “Through these cases, I have gained extensive experience handling a wide range of appeal cases.”
In her personal statement, Birkenkotter said she was certain that she was willing to serve on the court and that her experience as a judge prepared her for the role.
“I know how to work to build consensus, listen carefully, challenge my own opinions and consider the opinions of others thoughtfully, stand up for my position, have difficult conversations when necessary, disagree with respect when consensus is not possible,” she wrote.
A search of state and federal databases reveals that they never submitted to a Colorado political candidate. Birkencutter said in her application that she is not an activist in party politics.
Andrea Wang was accepted into the Colorado Bar in 2001 after graduating from University of Colorado Law School. Since then, she has practiced a civil litigation career, most recently as an assistant attorney for the United States.
Wang said in her application that she moved to her current position after her mother’s death.
“When I thought about what was important to me, I decided that I could and should do more for the community,” she wrote.
She said her time in her current position was the “most rewarding role” of her career.
Before working as a federal attorney, Wang worked in a private clinic, where he focused on commercial litigation and specialized in litigation over natural resources and energy at Davis Graham & Stubbs. There, she “dealt with cases at the trial and appeals level,” according to her request.
She also wrote that she worked on freelance issues and served as chair of the company’s diversity and inclusion committee.
As the assistant attorney general of the United States, she usually represents the federal government in cases where she has been exposed to fraud. She said her cases generally involve public lands and all “arise from conduct in Colorado, or the influence agencies that are in Colorado.”
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Wang writes that her current cases are being heard in federal courts, but in private practice she has worked on cases before the Courts of Appeals in Colorado and before the Courts of Appeals in Colorado and the Supreme Court of Nebraska.
Like Berkenkotter, Wang has also served on the Colorado Supreme Court. Wang worked with Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey from 2001 to 2002.
“I am honored to continue my public service as a judge at the court where I began my career 19 years ago,” she wrote.
In 2011, the Colorado Supreme Court appointed her to serve as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Sessions Board, whose members hold hearings and disciplinary trials and issue decisions on attorney discipline. Wang resigned from that position when she joined the Colorado State Attorney’s office.
Wang is currently defending the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a federal court case brought by an Aurora arms seller challenging the office’s decision to revoke his license.
Wang wrote in her request that she would stop participating in party politics if appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court. Federal and state campaign finance databases show it has given Democratic candidates and their causes in the past.
Residing in Denver since 1998, Timothy MacDonald graduated from the University of Michigan with a law and a master’s degree in public policy. He is currently a partner at the national law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and managing partner of the firm’s Denver office, a role he has held full time since 2014. He has worked with the firm since 1998 and partner since 2006.
Although he was not a judge, he brought cases before the Colorado Supreme Court. He wrote in his request that he “dealt with nine appeals to the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Court of Appeals, (the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States), and appeals in the District Court.”
After law school, MacDonald worked with Emilio M. Garza on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans.
MacDonald said in his application that he filed his first briefing brief in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2000, and that his history of working on court appeals has given him “a deep appreciation for clear writing and problem solving and for judges who understand the practical facts of their decisions.”
He described MacDonald, who describes himself as a “legal specialist”, as “a civil prosecutor who handles trials and appeals of all kinds.” He said it typically represents corporations and commercial interests, and trial work makes up 65% to 70% of his practice and resumes the other 30% to 35%.
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He wrote that he has worked on a “wide range” of free issues. He said in his application: “I have committed myself to free work in our state because I realize how lucky I have been in my life and I believe I have an obligation to return the favor to our community.”
MacDonald is currently representing the City of Boulder in defiance of the 2018 Municipal Act that limits large-capacity armory and offensive weapons stores. He has represented the Hopi nation for more than 20 years in various conflicts.
He wrote: “My conception of the Hopi was one of the true treasures of my professional life.”
MacDonald, the son of immigrants, said he was interested in becoming a judge on the Colorado Supreme Court because that would be the culmination of years of working on behalf of the less fortunate.
“I am seeking this position because I want to fully commit myself to serving the public,” he wrote.
MacDonald wrote in his application that he would stop participating in party politics if he were appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court. Federal and state campaign finance databases show it has run for Democratic candidates in the past, including Mike Johnston’s 2018 governor’s campaign and the 2020 U.S. Senate campaign; Campaign of US Representative Joe Niguez. US Representative Jason Crowe campaign; Amy Klobuchar is the presidential campaign for 2020.
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