Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced his pick for the next Colorado Supreme Court justice late Friday afternoon, 25 October 2013: Denver District Court Judge William Hood III
(succeeding outgoing Justice Michael Bender, who is retiring effective 7 January 2014).
Prior to being appointed to the Denver District Court in 2007, Hood was a long-time contributor to Democrat candidates and causes: hosting events for Bill Ritter's campaign and contributing the maximum amount ($1,000) in 2006, contributing to the State Democratic Party House Campaign Fund, and supporting Steve Bernard's failed campaign for District Attorney in 2004.
Hood also has close ties to Democrat Party attorney (and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigator) Mark Grueskin, dating from their time as colleagues in the politically connected (and politically active) Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C. law firm - associations that may have been related to his removal from the 2011 Congressional redistricting lawsuits, before the case was reassigned to Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt, as contemporaneously reported by Law Week online:
Denver District Judge William Hood, who was randomly assigned to hear Colorado congressional redistricting lawsuits filed Tuesday by Republicans and Democrats, once was a law-firm colleague of the lead attorney for the Democratic side.
Before his appointment to the Denver bench in 2007, Hood worked at Isaacson Rosenbaum, the firm that until recently employed Democratic Party lawyer Mark Grueskin.
Asked about a possible conflict between himself and the judge, Grueskin said, “Even before you get to the issue that he and I were formerly colleagues, he may have a docket that’s full.”
Given Hood's close associations with Democrat party attorney and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigant Mark Grueskin, this pick could lead to a number of recusals in some high-profile, politically-charged cases that might come before the Colorado Supreme Court (Grueskin represented Democrat incumbent state senators Morse and Giron in failed challenges before the courts seeking to derail the ultimately successful and historic Colorado Recall elections leading to their removal from office).
Hickenlooper's elevation of a partisan Democrat contributor to his predecessor in office further erodes the governor's claim to moderation and impartiality in carrying out one of the key responsibilities of his office - ensuring that good judges – who understand that their role is to fairly and impartially uphold and apply the law – are elevated to judicial office, instead of more politicians in black robes.
This is particularly important in selecting the next statewide appellate court judges – many of whom all too frequently have exercised unrestrained power in violation of constitutional limits on their authority.
Our judicial system depends more than any other branch of government on public trust and confidence that the law is being applied fairly and impartially for all citizens – that our judges are fulfilling their proper roles as referees upholding the rules rather than players attempting to score for their “team’s” agenda.