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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock on Thursday announced the appointments of Michelle Martinez-Thomas, Tanya Wheeler and James Zobel to the Denver County Court.

“We had a dynamic pool of candidates for these vacancies, which made this a difficult decision, and these phenomenal jurists were all capable, committed, passionate and progressive legal scholars and exceptional civic-minded leaders,” Hancock said.

On March 1, Martinez-Thomas will fill the role of Denver County Court Judge, a new seat which the city created. She has been the District Court Magistrate for the 17th Judicial District since 2017, after serving as an attorney in the Colorado Public Defender's Office for 10 years. 

Wheeler, a member of the Board of Directors for Denver CASA, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Brian T. Campbell. She will assume her role as Denver County Court Judge on March 11, leaving her current role as the First Assistant Attorney General for the Human Services Unit in the state AG's office, which she has held since 2015.

Zobel will assume the role of Denver County Court Judge on Feb. 1, after serving as Magistrate for the Denver County Court since 2015. Zobel helped initiate the mock trial teams for 4th and 5th graders at Denver Public Schools’ College View Elementary and Cole Arts and Science Academy. She is replacing retiring Judge Johnny C. Barajas, who last month ruled that the city's camping ban was unconstitutional.

“Michelle, Tanya and James rose to the top as individuals who would greatly add to the judicial reputation of our Denver County Court as this venerable institution’s newest judges," Hancock said. "All three exhibited traits that will serve the court and the people of Denver well — a commitment to justice, superb legal aptitude, fair mindedness and so much more.”

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