The appointment of Lake County Judge Jonathan Shamis to Fifth Judicial District Court is great news for Lake County and the Fifth as a whole. He spoke with the Herald earlier this week following the announcement by Governor Jared Polis.
Shamis, who began as Lake County judge in 2013, has the experience to meet the demands of district court and the outlook to implement positive change throughout the Fifth’s judicial system. In the meantime, he pledges to see through the many projects he’s helped launch in Lake County.
Throughout his decade-long tenure as a county judge, Shamis has already garnered plenty of experience at the district level. At home in the Fifth Judicial District, he has handled felony jury trials and other district matters under the direction of Chief Judge Paul Dunkelman.
Shamis also serves as a magistrate in the Ninth Judicial District, a position he’s held for about two years now. He managed the abuse and neglect, child support and delinquency dockets for the Ninth, and assisted in other district matters such as felony preliminary hearings, temporary orders and some domestic relations cases.
Beyond the bench, Shamis is heavily involved in several aspects of the Lake County community, including law enforcement, mental health advocacy and capital projects like the community justice center, which are all related.
About two years ago, he helped launch a court concierge service alongside Solvista Health, a mental health provider for Lake County that’s based in Salida. The program, which has since received Congressional funding, stations a professional in court to help connect the public to services for housing, mental health, substance abuse and other resources.
Shamis called the program the “biggest success” Lake County’s courthouse has seen in years. It is responsible for a more efficient arraignment process, which cuts down on time spent transporting arrestees to surrounding counties and helps improve the public’s trust in the local court system.
Shamis also worked to bring a state pilot program to Lake County that places Colorado law students in “legal deserts” throughout the state. The goal of the program is to increase the diversity of attorneys in rural areas while also attracting potential firms to those areas once students graduate.
The Fifth and Ninth judicial districts were selected to kick off the program last summer, and due to its success locally, the program will return to the Fifth this summer. While it’s great for the district, Shamis is particularly happy with how the program played out in Lake County, where the demographic of the community does not match that of its legal professionals.
These programs and initiatives have led to incrementally positive change in Lake County’s judicial system, and there are many other improvements on the horizon thanks to input from stakeholders like Shamis, who now has the opportunity to implement change throughout the district.
That change might look like developing a competency docket and protocols for co-responders, which don’t currently exist. This is something Shamis has already pushed for at the county level, but that might be easier to implement as a district judge overseeing several communities.
Shamis’ familiarity with Lake County as district judge could also help strengthen our relationship with Eagle and Summit counties. Although Solvista provides many resources to residents of Lake County in terms of mental health and substance abuse, we could also use support from our neighbors to the north, and there are many resources that exist there as well.
Even as a district judge, Shamis remains committed to Lake County and will likely still see cases here, particularly during the transition phase. He is also excited to continue working on local projects like the community justice center, which is vitally important for Lake County.
The Herald wishes the best of luck to Judge Shamis in this new role. We are excited to see the types of changes that surface as he takes the district bench.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.