KUSA's Kendrick omits provisional term from summary of current law on judicial retention

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During a report about a proposed constitutional amendment to limit judicial terms, KUSA 9News co-anchor Bob Kendrick omitted the fact that Colorado Supreme Court and appellate court judges face their first retention vote following a two-year provisional term. Kendrick reported that "Colorado Supreme Court justices are up for re-election every 10 years and appellate court judges every eight years."

In an August 11 report on Denver NBC affiliate KUSA's broadcast of 9News at 5 p.m. regarding a judicial term-limits ballot initiative, co-anchor Bob Kendrick stated that "[c]urrently, Colorado Supreme Court justices are up for re-election every 10 years and appellate court judges every eight years." Kendrick did not include the fact that, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, under current law, judges and justices initially serve a two-year provisional term, after which they face a retention vote during the next general election. After the first retention election, justices and judges are subject to additional retention elections at the conclusion of full 10- and eight-year terms

Kendrick reported that under a proposed state constitutional amendment designated Amendment 40 for consideration on the November ballot, "judges would come before voters every four years." In fact, as explained by Amendment 40's principal proponent, former Republican state senate president John Andrews, in an August 10 Wall Street Journal op-ed, the measure "would reduce the retention cycle to four years (after an appointee's first provisional term, which can be as short as two years), and cap total service at three terms, about 10 years or a bit longer depending on date of appointment." A self-described "conservative reformer," Andrews has spearheaded the Amendment 40 effort in what he called an attempt to "rein in activist judges and take back our courts."

From the August 11 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 5 p.m.:

BOB KENDRICK (co-anchor): Ten years and out. That's the premise behind a November ballot measure designed to term limit certain Colorado judges.Currently, Colorado Supreme Court justices are up for re-election every 10 years and appellate court judges every eight years. If Amendment 40 passes, both sets of judges would come before voters every four years. Supporters believe it's time for fresh air in the judiciary, while opponents think it will decimate the system.

JOHN ANDREWS (chairman, Limit the Judges): People reasonably should say, "Let's check the potential abuse of power by these policy makers in robes and tell them 10 years' service is enough."

GALE MILLER (Citizens to Protect Colorado Courts): It's important to maintain a judiciary that's free of politics and to keep the thumb of politics off the scale of justice.

KENDRICK: This will be the fourth time Colorado voters have decided a term-limits issue since 1992. Currently, all state and locally elected officials are subjected to term limits. Federal officeholders are not.

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