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The Colorado Supreme Court and Colorado Court of Appeals. (Jeremy Martinez, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday selected Maria Encarnacion Berkenkotter as his first Colorado Supreme Court appointee.

“Throughout her career, she has shown a keen ability to render sound and wise decisions on a broad range of issues,” Polis said in a written statement. “She has deftly presided over high-profile, complicated and often emotional cases, and has implemented beneficial operational changes within the Judicial Branch. She has decades of experience in her field and is universally respected among the Colorado bar. I have no doubt she will be an asset to the State and add immense value to the Supreme Court.”

Berkenkotter, a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is the former chief judge in the 20th Judicial District in Boulder County. She currently works for the Judicial Arbiter Group. 

Berkenkotter was nominated for a position on the Colorado Supreme Court in 2018 under then-Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper selected Carlos A. Samour instead.

Berkenkotter was among three finalists this year for the Colorado Supreme Court seat left open by the retirement of Nathan B. Coats, the last Republican-appointed judge on the seven-judge panel.

Andrea Wang, an assistant U.S. attorney, and Timothy MacDonald, a partner with the law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, were the other two finalists.

“I’m honored to be selected by Governor Polis for this important position,” Berkenkotter said in a written statement. “It is essential for the foundations of our democracy, including our courts, to remain strong during these unprecedented times.”

Berkenkotter presided over the high-profile 2016 trial of Dynel Lane, who was sentenced to 100 years in prison for cutting the fetus out of another woman in Longmont. Before becoming a judge in Boulder County, Berkenkotter worked as an attorney in private practice and for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul