Colorado voters appeared to approve a one-time measure that amends the state constitution to allow judges serving in the 18th Judicial District to transfer to the new 23rd Judicial District, which includes Douglas, Lincoln and Elbert counties.
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, about 68% of ballots were cast in favor of Amendment D, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
Under the amendment, seven judges from the 18th Judicial District will be reassigned by the governor to the 23rd District by Nov. 30, 2024.
“Colorado voters made a pragmatic choice that will ensure efficiency, consistency, and a smooth transition for the courts and the justice system as the 23rd Judicial District comes online in 2025,” Tom Raynes, executive director of Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, said in an email to The Sun Tuesday night.
The ballot measure stemmed from the creation of the new judicial district in 2020 to account for population growth in the southeastern suburbs. Lawmakers removed Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties from the 18th Judicial District and reassigned them to the new 23rd Judicial District, but did not specify how to appoint judges in the new district. The Colorado Constitution didn’t outline the process, either.
The new judicial district is expected to be fully functioning by Jan. 7, 2025.
There are currently 24 judges and one chief judge in the 18th district. Under the 2020 bill, seven judges will be removed from the 18th, which includes Arapahoe County. The 23rd district is set to have eight judges.
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Amendment D allows the governor to appoint existing judges to fill the vacancies in the new judicial district, bypassing the current appointing process which requires the governor to appoint a judge after receiving a list of candidates selected by a judicial nominating commission.
The measure is limited to the one-time selection of judges for the new district. Because it changes the Colorado Constitution, it required at least 55% of the vote to pass.
UPDATE: This story was updated at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 with the latest election results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.