Summit County Judge Mark D. Thompson set to head 5th Judicial District starting in December


EAGLE COUNTY — A Summit County judge has been appointed to head the local judicial district.

District Court Judge Mark D. Thompson is the new chief judge for the Fifth Judicial District, Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. He was appointed Tuesday by Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael L. Bender.

Thompson will replace retiring Chief Judge R. Thomas Moorhead, who is joining a Front Range mediation firm comprised of other former judges. Moorhead was appointed to the bench in 2002 and has served as chief judge since 2010.

Moorhead was Vail’s town attorney from July 1993-June 2001 and the county attorney for Eagle County from June 2001-August 2002.

Support Local Journalism

Thompson starts Dec. 1

Thompson takes the chief judge slot on Dec. 1. Colorado is divided into 22 judicial districts, each with a chief judge.

“I wish Chief Judge Moorhead the best in retirement and thank him for his dedicated service to the people of the Fifth Judicial District,” Bender said. “Judge Thompson has the knowledge, experience and demeanor necessary to be a solid and effective leader for the district.”

Thompson was appointed to the district court bench in 2010. He is a graduate of Bates College and attended the University of Denver College of Law.

Following law school, he served as an associate with Feder, Morris, Tamblyn & Goldstein in Denver before moving to Breckenridge, where he joined the firm of French, West & Brown. He became a partner in that firm in 1999.

Thompson lives in Summit County.

Third change this year

Moorhead’s retirement is the Fifth Judicial District’s third judge change this year. Wayne Patton was selected as the new district judge, creating an opening in Lake County that was filled Wednesday when Jonathan Shamis was appointed by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to the bench in Lake County Court.

To be a District Court judge, applicants must be registered to vote in the Fifth Judicial District and must have been able to practice law in Colorado for five years. The job pays $133,228.

The chief judge appoints the district administrator, chief probation officer and clerks of the court; assisting in the personnel, financial and case-management duties of the district; and seeing that the business of the courts is conducted efficiently and effectively. Other responsibilities include judicial assignments within the district.

Members of the Fifth Judicial District nominating commission are George Clark Jr., of Evergreen; Gregory Johnson, of Edwards; Christina Hooper, of Eagle; John Montepare, of Breckenridge; Heather Scanlon, of Leadville; and Daniel Wolf, of Silverthorne.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

Support Local Journalism