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As the Colorado General Assembly kicked off its 2020 legislative session in January, addressing the bloated 18th Judicial District is on the to-do list.
Early in the session, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would split the 18th into two districts. The current judicial district comprises Arapahoe, Elbert, Douglas and Lincoln counties, and the newly formed 23rd would break off the latter three from Arapahoe County.
The proposed move owes itself to the rapid population growth the Front Range has experienced in recent years. The 18th Judicial District now serves more than one million people, more than 250,000 higher than the number served by the next-largest district. For the 23rd to become reality, the bill would have to be passed by two-thirds of the General Assembly, but the 23rd wouldn’t arrive until 2025, after the election of a new district attorney for that jurisdiction.
Although political considerations factor into the proposal, the primary reason to make the change is budgetary. The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has announced tentative support for the bill and will be closely analyzing its potential fiscal impacts as it makes its way through the legislature. “A split judicial district would better reflect our changing demographics and growing population, and it would increase the efficiency of the services we can deliver,” said Nancy Sharpe, chair of the Arapahoe County Board. “By having until 2024 to implement the plan, we’d be able to work with all stakeholders to address individual needs and requests in ways that would have the best collective benefit to all interested parties.”
The Board is working closely with State Rep. Mike Weissmann of Aurora to track the bill’s progress and provide information as needed.