Hon. Gilbert Román to Lead Colorado Court of Appeals as Chief Judge

Gilbert Román
The Hon. Gilbert Román will become the Chief Judge of the Colorado Court of Appeals effective Dec. 31, following the retirement of current Chief Judge Steve Bernard. Román will serve a four-year term as head of the appellate court and has served on the court for over 15 years. / Photo courtesy of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Last week, the Colorado Judicial Department announced the Hon. Gilbert Román was appointed the Chief-Judge designate set to replace Chief Judge Steve Bernard as the Colorado Court of Appeals’ administrative leader.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by the Chief Justice and the judges and staff of the Court of Appeals to serve as administrative leader of such a talented and dedicated group of jurists and employees,” said Román in a statement.

The change in leadership arises from current Chief Judge Steve Bernard’s upcoming retirement. Bernard has served as the Chief Judge for the past 15 years, appointed by former Gov. Bill Owens in 2006.

Román’s appointment will last for a term of four years starting Dec. 31, according to a release from the Colorado Judicial Department. Brian D. Boatright, chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, made the appointment and said he was confident Román would continue a tradition of “exemplary leadership” of the appeals court.

The four-year term allows the appellate judges to “develop and grow knowing that there will be future opportunities to lead the court,” according to Boatright.

“I am certain Judge Román has the experience and vision necessary to guide the Court of Appeals through the changes forced by the pandemic and ensure it continues to serve the people of Colorado in the excellent way it always has,” Boatright said.

Román has served informally as Deputy Chief Judge of the 22-judge court for the past three years and was appointed by Bernard. The Chief Judge position assigns judges to each three-member division and rotates the assignments every four months. The position also has specific appellate jurisdiction over decisions for several state administrative boards and agencies such as the Industrial Claim Appeals Office.

“Established by statute to provide appellate review of all cases properly brought before it, the Court of Appeals has initial jurisdiction, with some exceptions, over appeals from Colorado’s district courts, the Denver Probate Court and the Denver Juvenile Court,” the release states.

At the judicial branch level, Román has been involved in multiple committees ranging from the Court Services Committee to Attorney Well-Being and part of work done by the Colorado Institute for Faculty Excellence; Java with Judges Program; and served as the “Dream Team Anchor” on the Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence. 

A 16-year veteran of the Colorado Court of Appeals, Román earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1987. He obtained his undergrad at Colorado State University. Focusing on complex civil litigation with an emphasis on employment law, commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution, he participated in private practice at firms and corporations before his appointment to the Court of Appeals.

Román has taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and Colorado New Judge Orientation trainings, and has served as the Appellate Court’s Lorenzo Márquez Appellate Internship Liaison to the local law schools. He is a member and former trustee of the Denver Bar Association, board member of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association.

He has received many awards including the Appellate Judicial Skills and General Jurisdiction Certificates from the National Judicial College; the Denver Bar Foundation’s Richard Marden Davis Award; the HNBA’s Outstanding Lawyer Award; the CHBA’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award; and the DBA’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award.

In his personal life, Román has served as a Little League baseball and basketball coach, is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. He is married to his wife, Donna, and has three children.

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