Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has appointed Orchard City native Matthew Soper to be a non-attorney and Republican member of the Seventh Judicial District Nominating Commission representing Delta County. Soper replaces Commissioner Bill Raley of Delta. The term is for six years. It commenced on Jan. 1 and concludes on Dec. 31, 2022.
"It is a tremendous opportunity to serve my state and my home county as a member of the 7th Judicial Nominating Commission," Soper said. "Our judicial district has benefited from many talented judges, who have maintained the rule of law and impeccable integrity over the years. It is an awesome responsibility to help in the selection process of future judges who will uphold those same values that makes the judiciary the shining light that it is today."
Colorado's merit system for selecting judges dates back to 1966, when a Colorado Bar Association and League of Women Voters' sponsored constitutional initiative was passed by voters. The initiative created the merit system, whereby governor appointed commissioners, representing each county in the judicial district, whose job is to interview judicial vacancy candidates and make recommendations to the governor for appointment. The commission is made up of attorney and non-attorney members and law forbids more than half of the commission being of the same political party. After a judge is appointed, she or he will face a retention election periodically.
Prior to 1966, judges were directly elected by the people. Judges' campaigns were financed largely by contributions from interested parties and there was a general feeling of impropriety.
In 1988 the legislature established a judicial performance commission to provide the electorate with information about the judges running to be retained on the bench.
The Seventh Judicial District includes: Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties.