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Nathan Coats to be Colorado’s next chief justice

Author: Joey Bunch - April 12, 2018 - Updated: April 12, 2018

Nathan B. CoatsSupreme Court Justice Nathan B. Coats. (Photo by Marc Piscotty, courtesy of the Colorado Supreme Court)

Nathan B. Coats will be the new chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, elected by the associate justices.

He’ll take the seat occupied by retiring Chief Justice Nancy Rice effective June 30. Rice announced her plans last month to step down after 31 years on the bench, 20 on the state Supreme Court. She was appointed by Democratic Gov. Roy Romer in 1998.

“I am pleased and honored my colleagues have entrusted me with this very important role serving the judiciary and Colorado,” Coats said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to support the initiatives and programs Chief Justice Rice has successfully implemented and to bring forth new projects that will keep Colorado’s judiciary responsive to the state’s needs.”

Coats will be the 46th Supreme Court chief justice seated since Colorado became a state in 1876.

He is the currently the longest serving member and the only justice appointed by a Republican. Four were appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper since he took office in 2011, and Monica M. Marquez was appointed in 2010 by Gov. Bill Ritter.

Coats was appointed to the high court in 2000 by Republican Gov. Bill Owens, after serving as chief appellate deputy district attorney for the Second Judicial District in Denver County for 14 years. He also a prosecutor in the appellate section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, before that.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in 1971, and got his law degree from CU in 1977.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.