Hickenlooper, Bennet introduce legislation to increase number of district judges in Colorado

By: - December 15, 2021 10:57 am

A view of the federal Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse on 19th Street in downtown Denver. (Google Maps)

Democratic Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet introduced legislation last week to increase the number of district judges in Colorado. 

The Colorado Judgeship Act would add three district judges to Colorado’s district court and would be the first increase in judges in Colorado’s district court since 1984. 

Population of Colorado

1984: 3,174,844 people

2019: 5,758,736 people

According to a summary of the bill

“Our courts are integral to a fair and efficient justice system, but as Colorado’s population continues to grow, the District of Colorado is strained,” Bennet said in a Dec. 8 statement. “By adding three seats to the bench, our legislation will provide much-needed support to Colorado’s district court.” 

The increase in judges responds to “a need for additional support on Colorado’s district court bench” as Colorado’s population increases, according to the press release. 

District of Colorado consists of:

7 active district court judges (Denver)

4 senior district court judges (Denver)

7 full-time magistrate judges (six in Denver; one in Colorado Springs)

2 part-time magistrate judges (Durango; Grand Junction)

1 “primary” courthouse (Denver)

According to a summary of the bill 

“Colorado’s population is almost double what it was in 1984, but we haven’t added a single judge to Colorado district courts since then,” Hickenlooper said. “More federal judges means more justice for Coloradans.”

Since the last Congressional authorization for a new judgeship in Colorado in 1984, the state’s population has increased 81%, according to a summary of the bill. In terms of area, Colorado is the eighth largest state in the country.

If passed, President Joe Biden would appoint three additional judges to Colorado’s district court, who would then have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

The District Court of Colorado’s average weighted caseload per judge is “well above that of the nation,” according to Bennet’s press release.

The District of Colorado has the same boundaries as the state, which means the district serves all of Colorado and covers over 100,000 square miles.

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