District judge ready to retire

Doucette says he will not seek another term on bench

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— The chief judge in the 14th Judicial District is calling it quits after 22 years on the bench.

Richard P. Doucette will not seek another six-year term as a judge in the district, which includes Routt, Moffat and Grand counties.

The 61-year-old judge is planning to spend more time with his family.

"It is time to enjoy my grandchildren and do some traveling," Doucette said. "I have been here a long time. It is time to go."

Because of the decision, Doucette has written a letter to the Colorado Supreme Court stating he will not seek retention in the general election in November.

Gov. Bill Owens will appoint Doucette's replacement. Voters will decide the fate of three other judges in the district in November.

Because Doucette has notified the state he is retiring, the 14th Judicial District's Judicial Performance Commission will not evaluate him.

Currently, the commission is evaluating Routt County Judge James Garrecht, Moffat County Judge Mary Lynne James and 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson. Voters will decide if these judges stay in office.

The 10-member board, which consists of four attorneys and six residents, will give voters a recommendation for each judge. The commission will recommend for voters to either "retain" or "do not retain" the judge in the election.

The commission recently started the in-depth evaluation, which is expected to be completed by July.

The commission consists of residents Olive Morton, Barbara Baker, Ben Beall, Cathy Carpenter, John Ponikvar and T.J. Sisto.

The four lawyers on the commission are Mark Fischer, Rich Newton, Tom Sharp and John Vanderbloemen.

For the evaluations, the commission is considering each of the judges' integrity, knowledge of the law, docket management, communication skills, preparation, punctuality and effectiveness in working with participants in the judicial process.

The commission is also seeking public participation in evaluating the judges.

Residents interested in giving the commission their opinion on the professional performance of the judges can write or meet with the commission.

Letters to Morton must be sent by April 24. The commission will meet with residents at 6 p.m. April 24 at the Routt County Courthouse in Steamboat Springs.

Residents who plan to attend must notify the commission by April 22.

Along with public input, the commission is surveying individuals who have had contact with the judges, which include jurors, litigants, victims, law enforcement officers, social workers and attorneys.

Garrecht has been presiding over Routt County cases since 1987.

Gov. Roy Romer appointed Thompson in 1994.

Since Thompson's tenure, Doucette has been the chief judge in the 14th Judicial District. Gov. Richard Lamm appointed him in 1980. He also served as the chief judge for the district between 1988 and 1990.

Doucette and Thompson share the caseload for the district. The two judges share cases in Steamboat Springs.

Doucette handles the majority of Grand County cases, and Thompson is responsible for Moffat County.

Doucette, who is originally from Minnesota, has lived in Hot Sulphur Springs since 1971.

He graduated with a degree from the University of Minnesota in forest management in 1962. In 1966, Doucette earned a law degree from the University of Colorado.

He practiced law for 10 years in Hot Sulphur Springs prior to being appointed to the bench.

"It has been an enjoyable experience," Doucette said. "It has been very demanding."

Doucette said he looks forward to traveling with his wife of 31 years, Christine, and spending more time with his two grown children and five granddaughters.

Doucette said a judicial nomination committee will recommend three candidates to Gov. Owens to replace him.

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