County Judge Diem to leave the bench |

County Judge Diem to leave the bench

Matt Zalaznick

A committee will soon meet to pick three names from a group of applicants to send to Gov. Bill Owens, who will appoint Diem’s replacement.

“I think she has always demonstrated a real sincere compassion for people who come into her courtroom,” said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mike Goodbee. “She recognizes most people don’t like to come to court, that they’re nervous and unsettled when they’re there, and she works hard to make sure people feel comfortable.”

Diem’s resignation will create a vacancy on the Eagle County Court. That’s not to be confused, however, with the newly created district court judgeship that Goodbee has applied for.

The Eagle County Court deals with less serious felony, misdemeanor, traffic and small-claims cases. The Eagle County District Court, meanwhile, handles more serious felonies, juvenile cases and more complex civil suits.

“She gives people a chance, rather than causing them to lose their jobs by putting them in jail,” says Jim Fahrenholtz, a defense attorney. “She’ll put them on a home-detention sentence and allow people to receive treatment rather than go to jail, where they receive no treatment.”

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In 1986 Diem, as chief deputy district attorney for Eagle County, hired Fahrenoltz. He replaced her as chief deputy district attorney when she left the office.

Diem also showed compassion as a prosecutor, said Arlene Sandberg, who worked with the judge in the district attorney’s office and is now Goodbee’s administrative assistant.

“She would look at things that needed to be taken care of, and when compassion was needed, she had that to,” Sandberg said. “She was always real careful to listen to people.

“I loved working for her,” Sandberg added. “She treated us so nice. She treated us like a team.”

Diem will be missed by the lawyers who argued cases before her.

“She was totally fair and I’m gonna be sad to see her go,” Fahrenholtz said.

The Fifth Judicial District Nominating Commission will soon meet to select nominees for appointment by Owens. The commission will interview all applicants and then forward three names to the governor.

Applicants must be a qualified elector in Eagle County and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado. The annual salary for county judge position is $100,137.

The initial term of office for a county judge is a provisional term of two years. Thereafter, the incumbent judge will have to run for reelection to a four-year term.

Application forms are available from the office of the Ex-Officio Chair of the Nominating Commission, Justice Nathan B. Coats, Colorado State Judicial Building, 2 East 14th Ave., Denver, CO, 80203. Applications are also available from the district administrator, Christine M. Yuhas, Summit County Justice Center, 501 North Park Ave., Breckenridge, CO, 80424.

Applications are also available in PDF format on the court’s home page at

Applications will be kept confidential. The Nominating Commission, however, will release the names and work addresses of the candidates submitted to Owens.

Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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