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Ritter Confirms 2 Judge Appointments, Announces 4 More

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter, whose term ends Jan. 11, confirmed two appointments he made, but didn’t announce, last week. He also named four other judges.

Ritter acknowledged appointing Julie Field and Stephen Howard to the Larimer district judgeships being vacated by Jolene Blair and Terry Gilmore. The two judges were voted out of office by district voters, likely a result of their previous involvement in the failed Tim Masters prosecution.

Ritter also announced appointing John Briggs to the Weld County Court, Francis Stephen Collins to a new 18th district judgeship, Debra Gunkel to the Baca County Court and non-lawyer Cindy Lu Wilson — she’s a certified public accountant — to the Jackson County Court.

The full statement follows:

GOV. RITTER APPOINTS SIX NEW JUDGES

Gov. Bill Ritter today announced the appointments of six new county and district court judges:

  • John Joseph Briggs of Windsor will become a new Weld County Court judge effective Jan. 1. Briggs has been an associate attorney in the Law Office of Robert E. Ray since 2004. His practice focuses on criminal law, domestic relations, and appeals.  He also worked as a law clerk for the Kansas Court of Appeals. He received his bachelor’s degree from Marietta College in 1990 and his law degree from Washburn Law School in 1993.
  • Francis Stephen Collins of Parker will become a new District Court judge in the 18th Judicial District, which serves Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, effective Feb. 1. He is currently a shareholder at Ducker, Montgomery, Lewis & Bess, P.C., where he has practiced since 2000 and is now a commercial litigator. Prior to that, he was an associate and partner with Pendleton, Friedberg, Wilson & Hennessey; an associate with Parcel, Meyer, Schwartz, Ruttum & Mauro; and a law clerk to the Alaska Supreme Court Justice Edmond W. Burke. Collins received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1976) and his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1979.
  • Julie Kunce Field of Fort Collins will become a new District Court judge in the 8th Judicial District, which serves Jackson and Larimer counties, effective Jan. 1. Field is currently a sole practitioner. She previously worked as a litigation associate with Nutter, McClennen and Fish; associate professor and clinic director of Washburn University Law School; clinical program director for the University of Denver College of Law; adjunct faculty and guest lecturer for the University of Colorado-Denver Masters’ Program in Public Policy; and as a special consultant to International Monetary Fund and World Bank. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1982 and her law degree from the University of Chicago in 1985.
  • Debra Marie Gunkel of Springfield will become a new Baca County Court judge effective Jan. 11. She is currently a sole practitioner. She previously worked as a deputy district attorney in the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in 1980, an M.B.A. from the University of Denver in 1986, and her J.D. from Southwestern University in 1989, and an L.LM. in taxation from Boston University in 1991.
  • Stephen Enderlin Howard of Fort Collins will become a new District Court judge in the 8th Judicial District effective Jan. 1. He is currently a partner at Howard and Francis. He previously worked at Fischer and Wilmarth as an associate and a partner. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1978.
  • Cindy Lu Wilson of Coalmont will become a new Jackson County Court judge effective Feb. 9. She is currently a certified public accountant with her own practice. She previously was the owner/operator of the Shamrock Ranch and she was a CPA with Tredway, Henion and Kerr and with Wilson & Co.

District court judges serve an initial provisional term of two years. Then, if retained by voters, they serve six-year terms at an annual salary of $128,598.

County court judges serve an initial provisional term of two years. Then, if retained by voters, they serve four-year terms with an annual salary of $123,067.

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