State Supreme Court nominee has ties to GJ

A Grand Junction High School graduate is one of three possible picks to sit on the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission announced Tuesday that Monica Marquez was one of three people nominated to fill an opening on the high court, which came about after Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey announced plans to retire in June.

The other nominees are Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Robert Russel and El Paso County District Judge David Prince. Both were appointed to the bench by former GOP Gov. Bill Owens.

Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, has 15 days to name one of the three.

Marquez, 41, is a deputy attorney general in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. She oversees the State Services Division for Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican. That means she acts as chief counsel for all executive-branch state agencies, such as the Departments of Education and Human Services, and the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Monica is an extraordinarily talented attorney,” said Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a Democrat and former Grand Junction state representative who has known Marquez for several years. “She would be an extraordinary defender of the Western Slope.”

Marquez is the daughter of former Grand Junction attorney and judge Jose Marquez, who served as a 21st Judicial District judge in the 1980s, and later as a judge on the Court of Appeals. He retired in 2008.

If chosen, Monica Marquez would be the first openly lesbian justice on the Supreme Court.

She is a former president and current board member of the Colorado Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association. She oversees the GLBT website. On it, she writes that she lives with her partner of 11-plus years and their two Labrador retrievers in Stapleton.

Marquez graduated from Grand Junction High in 1987 and was valedictorian that year. She earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University in 1991 and her law degree from Yale in 1997.

She has worked in the Attorney General’s Office since 2002.

Earlier this year, Suthers lauded Marquez for winning a major attorney’s award, saying she was one of his office’s best lawyers.

“Monica is one of the brightest and most civically engaged attorneys working in state government today,” Suthers said at the time. “This award highlights what Monica’s clients and colleagues have known for some time, that she is one of Colorado’s finest public servants.”

Whoever gets appointed to the seven-member court won’t replace Mullarkey as chief justice. That decision is decided among the justices themselves.

When Mullarkey announced her plans to retire, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger called on the nominating commission to include someone from the Western Slope.

Hautzinger said Tuesday that although it’s good the commission did that, he would prefer a justice with more background prosecuting criminal matters, such as Russel. Marquez’s work with the attorney general focuses more on civil matters, such as social-service issues and election laws.

“I think very highly of Russel,” Hautzinger said. “While it would be good to have someone from the Western Slope, there’s a need for more prosecutorial experience on the high court.”


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