D.A., county attorney among three finalists for district judge
Mike Goodbee, district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District, Eagle County Attorney Tom Moorhead and Jaydee Bachman McPhetres, an estate attorney and former public defender, meet with Owens today at the State Capitol.
“Am I nervous? You bet I am,” said Goodbee, 39, who was appointed district attorney in 1997 and has been reelected twice. “It’s not everyday you have an interview of this importance with the governor. There’s a reverence about the capitol building that kind of shakes you up a bit.
“It’s been a long-term goal,” added Goodbee, who applied unsuccessfully for the bench in 1994. “I decided eight years ago this is something I wanted to pursue. Now it’s one step closer.”
If Goodbee is selected, Owens will appoint a district attorney to replace him.
McPhetres, 43, who lives in Idaho Springs, was a public defender for 13 years and now works in private practice for a tax and estate law firm in Lakewood specializing in setting up public charities and private foundations. She says she became interested in the bench while clerking for judges in Alaska.
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“I’ve always been more interested in how the decision works,” McPhetres said. “What made me affective as an advocate was that I could see all the way around the case. I could see all the positions in the case and how they interplay. I think that’s a real important perspective for a judge to have.”
McPhetres’ name was one of three sent to the governor to fill the last vacancy on the bench in Clear Creek County. She was not selected that time around, she said.
“Imposing my perspective of the world over everybody else is not my goal,” she said. “But I believe you’ve got to be aware and have a good grasp of exactly what’s going on. There are times that you have to apply the law as it should be applied, even if it’s not properly argued to you.”
Moorhead, formerly the attorney for the town of Vail, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The open spot on the district bench is not to be confused with the county judgeship being vacated in January by Eagle County Judge Teri Diem. The district judgeship was newly created for the District Court, which handles more serious felony cases and more complex civil suits than the County Court. Juvenile cases are also heard by the District Court.
The new district judge will sit for a provisional two-year term. The judge will then have to run for reelection to a six-year term. The judgeship pays $104,637 a year.
The three candidates and other applicants first met with the Fifth Judicial District Nominating Commission, composed of residents in the district comprised of Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek counties.
A final decision will be made by Owens by July 17.
Meanwhile, the nominating committee will meet again soon to pick three candidates for County Court judge to replace Diem.
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 email@example.com.