DA Goodbee on short-list for county bench | VailDaily.com

DA Goodbee on short-list for county bench

Matt Zalaznick

District Attorney Mike Goodbee, Eagle County Public Defender Elizabeth Espinosa Krupa and former Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett will, within the next two weeks, be interviewed by Gov. Bill Owens, who will chose the new judge.

It is Goodbee’s second attempt this summer to earn a seat on the bench. He was interviewed by Owens in July to fill a new district court judgeship, but the governor appointed Eagle County Attorney Tom Moorhead to the post.

Goodbee, who has been the district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District since 1997, says he has long aspired to be a judge.

“It’s an honor to be selected as one of the three and we’ll hope for the best,” Goodbee says.

The Fifth Judicial District comprises Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake counties.

Gannett, 49, is now a criminal defense attorney and the municipal court judge in Basalt. When Gannett resigned his post as Eagle County judge in 1994, he was replaced by Diem.

Espinosa is currently the Eagle County public defender.

Neither Gannett nor Espinosa could be reached for comment Thursday.

Goodbee, Espinosa and Gannett were chosen as the three finalists Wednesday from a group of applicants that was interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Fifth Judicial District.

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.

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

Diem spent several years in the Eagle County district attorney’s office, reaching the post of chief deputy district attorney. Defense attorneys have called Diem a compassionate judge.

“She gives people a chance rather than causing them to lose their jobs by putting them in jail,” said defense attorney Jim Fahrenholtz. “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.”

Diem was also an even-handed prosecutor, said Arleen Sandberg, who worked with Diem in the district attorney’s office and is now Goodbee’s assistant.

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

As district attorney, Goodbee, who has run as a Democrat in the past, faces reelection in 2004. If he is appointed the county bench, however, Owens, a Republican, would then have to select a district attorney to fill out his term.

Goodbee, 39, was appointed district attorney in 1997 by Gov. Roy Romer to replace the previous district attorney, who resigned. Goodbee was then elected to the post in 1998 and reelected to a four-year term in 2000.

Goodbee also applied for a judgeship in 1994.

Owens has two weeks from today to appoint Diem’s replacement.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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