Goodbee appointed state deputy attorney general
His wife, Michelle, gave birth to their second child, Rachel Elise, Monday afternoon. And Wednesday, he drove from his home in Gypsum to Denver, where Attorney General Ken Salazar appointed him Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.
“I’m accepting a great new challenge today,” Goodbee told a roomful of reporters. “Friday, maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket and see what happens.”
Goodbee, who was appointed DA of the Fifth Judicial District in 1997, plans to spend time with his wife, infant girl and son, Gabriel James, 2, before starting work with the Colorado Department of Law Jan. 1.
In his new position, Goodbee will work with a staff of more than 40 attorneys and 26 investigators. Last year, the department handled almost 1,000 criminal cases in state and federal appeals courts.
The department specializes in: statewide grand jury matters; gang and foreign prosecutions; environmental and capital crimes; securities, workers’ compensation, Medicaid and insurance fraud; and youth violence prevention and school-safety issues.
The 39-year-old prosecutor said Salazar called him Nov. 7 and offered him the position.
“There are challenges and opportunities a lawyer can’t say no to,” Goodbee said in a short speech. “This is one of them.”
Salazar praised Goodbee’s experience in the Fifth Judicial District, citing the more than 1,000 felony cases – and five first-degree murder cases – he has prosecuted successfully.
“The work of the Criminal Justice Section is a top priority of my office,” Salazar said. “Michael Goodbee will continue that strong and active leadership in our efforts to make Colorado’s communities safer.”
Goodbee grew up in Colorado Springs, graduating from Doherty High School and earning his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University. He received his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. Goodbee practiced law in Colorado Springs before moving to the Fifth Judicial District, where he worked as a deputy DA, then chief deputy DA. He was appointed to DA in 1997.
The Fifth Judicial District covers Eagle, Clear Creek, Summit and Lake counties.
During Goodbee’s tenure in the Fifth Judicial District, he oversaw a staff of 31 and an annual budget of almost $2 million. He also serves as the vice president of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance.
Goodbee has been active in victims rights and advocacy issues and hopes to expand the Criminal Justice Section to include such a division.
“It feels like a lot has happened in a short period of time,” he said of his seemingly rapid ascent from a lawyer to a state deputy attorney general. “I have firm memories of handling traffic cases in Eagle County. Those aren’t ancient memories.”
Goodbee said the failure of Referendum A, which would have eliminated term limits for district attorneys, played a small role in his decision to accept Salazar’s offer. Goodbee is in the middle of his first full term and would have been eligible to run again in 2004.
“The bottom line is, when a guy like Ken Salazar calls and asks you to come work for him, you’d be a fool to say “no’,” Goodbee said.
He said he feels his experience in rural Colorado will help him in his job on the Front Range.
“We tend to forget: Most of the state is rural,” Goodbee said. “The fact that I’ve worked more in rural law enforcement gives me the broader sense of the way law enforcement works statewide.”
Goodbee replaces Don Quick, whom Salazar recently appointed as Chief Deputy Attorney. Goodbee’s replacement has yet to be named, but he said he hopes Owens appoints Fifth Judicial Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who lives in Breckenridge.
“He’d be my choice,” Goodbee said. “But it’s not my decision to make.”