COLORADO, USA — This story is part of a series of statewide ballot issue reviews for Next: We Don't Have To Agree, But Let's Just Vote.
Amendment D asks voters to allow the governor to reassign judges from an existing judicial district to a new judicial district, which becomes active on January 7, 2025.
Because this is a proposed change to the state constitution, it requires 55% support to pass.
Here is why you're being asked this question.
In 2020, state lawmakers passed a bill, signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D), that created the 23rd Judicial District. The 23rd Judicial District will consist of Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.
Currently, those counties are part of the 18th Judicial District, which also includes Arapahoe County.
Starting in 2023, the 18th Judicial District will only include Arapahoe, while the 23rd Judicial District will include Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.
A YES vote means you give the governor permission to reassign judges from the 18th Judicial District into the 23rd Judicial District, which also requires those judges to live in the boundaries of that district (Douglas, Elbert or Lincoln County).
A NO vote creates uncertainty with how judges will be assigned to the new 23rd Judicial District, and how judges will be reduced from the existing 18th Judicial District. Judges normally fill vacancies through a judicial nominating commission and then appointed by the governor.
Those judges then face retention on election ballots decided by voters.
Judicial Districts handle civil and criminal court cases. Since 1964, there have been 22 judicial districts in Colorado. Starting on Jan. 7, 2025, the 23rd Judicial District will be active.
The state law passed by the legislature in 2020 created eight judges for the 23rd Judicial District and reduced the number of judges in the 18th Judicial District from 24 to 17.
A YES vote would, presumably, allow seven judges from the 18th Judicial District to retain their jobs in the new 23rd Judicial District, since seven jobs will be disappearing from the 18th Judicial District.
Coincidentally, or luckily, seven of the 24 judges in the current four-county boundaries of the 18th Judicial District live in the three counties that will make up the 23rd Judicial District.
The judicial nominating commission does not handle moving a judge from one district to another.
A NO vote does not prevent the 23rd Judicial District from being created; that will happen in 2025.
It just means that we will not know how the 18th Judicial District will lose seven judges since they cannot be fired.
District judges appear on a ballot for retention every six years, so they can be voted out, they can resign, or they can serve until the age of 72.
There is no method to have seven judges' job automatically disappear.
If you plan to return your ballot by mail, it is recommended that you mail it back by Monday, Oct. 31, so that it has time to be received by Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
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