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Judicial Excellence Awards

2008 Judicial Excellence Award Recipients - Judge Jon Kolomitz, Judge Robert Russell, Judge Alfred Harrell, Magistrate Jane Westbrook

District Court
Honorable M. Jon Kolomitz
16th Judicial District

Judge Jon Kolomitz, a La Junta, Colorado native, received his law degree from the University of Colorado and immediately joined the FBI. Prior to being appointed to the District Court Bench, Judge Kolomitz was in private practice and served as a municipal court judge in La Junta. Judge Jon Kolomitz was appointed to the District Court bench in February 1985 and became Chief Judge of the 16th Judicial District in 1987. 

The Sixteenth Judicial District includes Bent, Crowley and Otero counties. As a multi-county district, the District Judges must hold court in each of the three counties in the district. Judge Kolomitz sits for at least a portion of one day per week in Bent and Crowley Counties. Throughout his distinguished career he has been described as showing “tenacity with difficult cases to see them through conclusion, and is particularly patient with dependency and neglect cases”. 

He is dedicated to improving judicial process in Colorado. Jon Asher of Colorado Legal Services described Judge Kolomitz as “one of the leaders on the bench in support of access to justice in Colorado throughout his career. Through his efforts on behalf of the Lend-a-Lawyer program and his desire that pro se litigants be given equal voice, Judge Kolomitz has supported and expanded access to justice throughout his district.” In addition to his service as a Lend-A-Lawyer liaison he has served as an instructor for Continuing Legal Education programs, as chair and liaison for the Chief Judges’ Council, a co-chair of the Protected Proceedings Probate Taskforce Committee, a member of the Federal-State Coordinating Council, chairman of the state prison judges group, and a mentor judge and instructor at New Judge Orientation. 

Judge Kolomitz is committed to his community outside the courtroom and has served on the La Junta School Board, the State Board of Nursing, the Otero County Child Protection Team, and on his church board. He presently serves on the Koshare Indian Kiva Museum, Inc. Board of Directors.

District Court Judge
Honorable Robert H. Russell, II
18th Judicial District

Judge Robert H. Russell received his law degree from the University of Puget  Sound School of Law in 1975 while serving in the U.S. Air Force.  After a 20 year Air Force career, including stations in locations such as Clark AFB in the Philippines, Bitburgh AFB in Germany, and Aviano AFB in Italy, Judge Russell retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1984.  He was in private practice and with the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office prior to his service as an Arapahoe County Magistrate in October 1985.  In June 1989 Judge Russell was appointed to the Arapahoe County Court where he served until his appointment to the 18th Judicial District Court in August 1998.

Judge Russell has been described as having “dedicated his life to the justice system and this is evident by the way he continues to preside in his courtroom with enthusiasm and remarkable discipline.”  He frequently “suggests that parties seek a less adversarial option to resolve their family disputes and is a particularly knowledgeable member of the judiciary when it comes to out-of-Court options.” Judge Russell has served as president of both the Arapahoe County Bar Association and the Sam Cary Bar Association as well as regional vice-president of the Colorado Bar Association.  He is dedicated to mentoring new judges, young attorneys, and students through his work with many local and specialty bar associations, the Minoru Yasui American Inn of Court and as a leader of the Delta Eta Boulé chapter of the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.  Judge Russell has served on numerous Supreme Court Committees including those on Jury Reform, Judicial Department Leadership Development, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Gender and Justice. 

His service outside the courtroom includes terms on the board of directors of the Mile High Chapter of the America Red Cross, lay leadership positions at St. Gabriel the Archangel Episcopal Church and as a former director of the Francis Monroe and Mattie T. Brown Scholarship Fund.

County Court 
Honorable Alfred C. Harrell
Denver County

Judge Alfred C. Harrell received a B.A. from the University of Colorado in 1966.  He commenced the study of law at the University of Denver in1968.  Judge Harrell worked for the United States Veteran’s Administration, IBM and Honeywell Information systems while in law school.  He graduated from that school's night division in 1971 and promptly joined his father, Irving P. Andrews Esq. in the practice of law.  He was appointed to the Denver County Court in 1985.

Judge Harrell's commitment to excellence includes taking the broadest possible view of the legal profession.  Commencing in 1994, Judge Harrell has helped to promote the American Inns of Court system in Colorado.  He has served two terms on the Board of Trustees of The American Inns of Court.  He is a past President of the William Doyle Inn of Court.  His community activities are devoted to the betterment of society; and his commitment has been given public recognition by the Denver Bar Association’s Judicial Excellence award in 1993 and the Award of Merit in 1999; the Colorado Bar Association’s Professionalism award in 1995; the Colorado Women’s Bar Association’s Judicial Mentoring award in 2000; the Asian American Bar Association’s Minoru Yasui Community Service award in 1998; the University of Colorado’s George Norlin award for lifetime achievement in his chosen profession in 1997.  In 2003 The American Board of Trial Advocates awarded Judge Harrell its Judicial Excellence award.

Judge Harrell is a frequent public speaker and guest lecturer.  He is a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and a current member of the Rhone-Brackett American Inn of Court.  He is a current member of the following bar associations and serves on several committees within those bar associations: the Sam Cary Bar Association, the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association of Colorado and the Colorado GLBT Bar Association.  Judge Harrell currently serves on the board of directors of The Denver Dumb Friends League; the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association; and, he is a member of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity at the University of Colorado.  He recently completed eight years of service on the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Attorney’s Fund for Client Protection.

Judge Harrell is widely known for his devotion as a mentor to attorneys and law students throughout Denver.  Through efforts such as the “Thursday morning breakfast” group, support of specialty bar associations and Inns of Court, and teaching at local and national conferences, Judge Harrell consistently promotes and demonstrates excellence in his chosen profession. 

Honorable Jane E. Westbrook
21st Judicial District, Mesa County

Magistrate Jane Westbrook received her law degree from the University of California-Davis School of Law in May 1980. Prior to her selection as Magistrate in 1992, she served in the 21st Judicial District D.A.’s office, worked as a staff attorney for the Central Bancorporation, and worked for the 9th Judicial District D.A.’s office.

Magistrate Westbrook is described as “a brilliant jurist who is able to effectively manage her docket with firmness but more importantly with a purpose to improve and empower the lives of every family who enters her courtroom.” She has consistently taken the lead to ensure that court proceedings are conducted in a manner and at a time during the day that allows children to have meaningful participation and voice. Magistrate Westbrook has devoted significant time to effective court reform and improvement, frequently being asked to serve on court improvement committees and projects. She often makes presentations on the judicial branch and the judiciary to students of all grades and has participated as a mock trial presiding judge for over a decade.

Magistrate Westbrook is a member of the Court Improvement Program Technology Subcommittee (SANCA) and Collaborative Court Subcommittee for rural courts. She is the technology assistant for the Civil Jury Instructions Committee. She has been a presenter in trainings on child support enforcement, for attorneys and social workers attending Colorado Child Welfare conferences, for the Office of Child Representative, at the Interdisciplinary Council conference, and for CASA-MC volunteers.

In September 2008, Magistrate Westbrook and the Twenty-first Judicial District (Mesa County) Dependency and Neglect Case Processing Team was recognized by the Colorado Judicial Branch as the Outstanding Team within the department.   “For years this small group of dedicated employees has been instrumental in completely revamping how this district handles dependency and neglect cases,” said District Judge Thomas M. Deister.

In response to her nomination and selection to receive the CJI award, Magistrate Westbrook noted “I cannot say enough about what a pleasure it is to serve as a member of the bench of the 21st Judicial District and to work with such a fine group of people. I feel truly fortunate to work in a district often-times unique in its collegiality and cohesiveness. I am honored to work with a bench and court staff that consistently provides justice to their community.” 

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