Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael Bender was just voted in by his colleagues as Chief Justice, replacing the retiring Mary Mullarkey. Bender, along with Mullarkey and Justices Nancy Rice and Alex Martinez, were the targets of a no retention effort by Clear the Bench Colorado. The effort may well have precipitated Mullarkey’s retirement. And though the other three justices held on to their posts, the opposition garnered an unprecedented approximate 40 percent of the vote.
To his credit, Bender doesn’t have the usual cookie-cutter government prosecutor background (see Colorado public disgrace, DA Mark Hurlbert, here and here). Unlike most recent appointees to the courts in Colorado and the rest of the country, Bender worked in private practice from 1979 until he was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1997. He also did stints in the Jefferson County, Denver, and state public defender’s offices and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He will officially replace Mullarkey on November 30.