Third Judicial District — Huerfano and Las Animas Counties

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For news reports on the incompetence of District Attorney Frank Ruybalid click here. In January 2015 he pled guilty and was given 2-years probation and a slap on the wrist.
Huerfano County Courthouse

401 Main Street, Suite 304

Walsenburg, CO 81089

Telephone: (719) 738-1040

Facsimile: (719) 738-1267

Las Animas County Courthouse

200 East First Street, Room 304

Trinidad, CO 81082

Telephone: (719) 846-3316

Facsimile: (719) 846-9367

In 2012 the Equal Justice Foundation began a rating system of justices standing for retention based on the votes of attorneys who submit responses to surveys sent to them by the Judicial Performance Review Commission. The idea was first put forward by the Rocky Mountain News in an October 13, 2002, editorial. Whether a “Retain” or “Do Not Retain” is recommended is based on the criteria:

Retain: More than 85% of attorneys voted to retain;

Marginal: in 2012 the standard was that only 80-85% of attorneys voted to retain. In 2014 review this was broadened to 75-85% and in 2018 the standard was expanded again to 71-85% of attorneys voted to retain;

Do Not Retain: In 2012 the standard was less than 80% of attorneys voted to retain. In 2014 review this was changed to <75% of attorneys voted to retain and in 2018 this was lowered even further to less than or equal <=70% suggesting judicial standards continue to decline.


 
    Table 18: Third Judicial District

Name of Judge

Telephone

Case Links

Comments

 

District Judges

Claude W. Appel

Former Chief Judge

Huerfano County

 

Retired January 2019.

 

Appointed district judge in March 1986.

Formerly Deputy District Attorney.

Stood for retention in 2000. 90% Retain.

Stood for retention in 2006. 79% Retain.

Stood for retention in 2012

EJF recommendation: Retain

90% of attorneys voted to Retain. 10% voted Do Not Retain.

 

 

Allegations of improper judicial practices by Appel reported in October, 2001. He was accused of using cocaine by Judge Haeger and attorney Bill Danks (Denver Post, 10/17/03 p. 4B). But he was later made chief judge of the district.

Norman Arends

Las Animas County

 

No longer on Bench as of February 2007.

 

Arends appointed chief judge after Manzanares was relieved by Colorado Supreme Court in October, 2001, after allegations of improper judicial practices made against two judges in 3 rd J.D. in fall of 2001. But later moved back.

Leslie J. Gerbracht

Las Animas County

(719) 846-3316

 

Appointed by Gov. Owens in Sept. 2006.

Former state public defender.

Replaced George A Newman

Stood for retention in 2010. 96% Retain.

Stood for retention again in 2016.

EJF recommendation: Do Not Retain

This time only 67% of attorneys voted to Retain and 20% voted Do Not Retain.

Jesse C. Manzanares

Las Animas County

 

Has stepped down as of 2003.

Now the Las Animas County Attorney.

John C. McKisson III

Huerfano County

 

 

Appointed district court judge by Gov. Hickenlooper in September 2018.

 

McKisson is a County Court Judge in Huerfano County, a position he has held since 2017. His docket is comprised of criminal, traffic, and civil cases.

George A. Newman

Las Animas County

 

No longer on bench as of February 2007.

Top

County Judges

Bruce Billings

Las Animas County

 

Retired January 2019.

 

Appointed county judge in December 2002.

Stood for retention in 2006. 82% Retain.

Stood for retention in 2010. 100% Retain.

Stood for retention in 2014.

EJF recommendation: 97% Retain ( consistently received high marks from attorneys)

Robert E. Haeger

Huerfano County

 

No longer on bench as of February 2007.

 

Appointed county judge in November 1987.

Stood for retention in 1998.

Stood for retention in 2002. A pathetic 44% of attorneys recommended retention.

Allegations of improper judicial practices by Haeger reported in October, 2001. Accused of cocaine use by attorney Bill Danks (Denver Post, 10/17/03 p. 4B). As of 10/28/03 (Denver Post, p. 4B) Haegar is suing the FBI for releasing information about alleged cocaine use by Judge Appel

Sanders witnessed Judge Haeger in Huerfano County Court in February 2004. Haeger was incredibly kind to the pro se litigant and ruled against DA, who then childishly stormed out of the courtroom.

John C. McKisson III

Huerfano County

 

 

Appointed county court judge by Gov. Hickenlooper in January 2017.

Promoted to district court judge January 2019.

Ellen Haskins Trujillo

Huerfano County

 

No longer on bench as of July 2009

 

Appointed by Chief Justice Mullarkey in Jan. 2005 over objections of Gov. Owens.

Gary Stork

Huerfano County

(719) 738-1040

Did not stand for retention in 2016 and retired January 2017.

 

Stood for retention in 2012

EJF recommendation: Retain

100% of the attorneys voted to Retain.

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This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.

Last modified 10/15/18