Q & A: Colorado’s Incoming Supreme Court Justice

August 28, 2015
Judge Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as the newest justice on the Colorado Supreme CourtJudge Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as the newest justice on the Colorado Supreme Court Bente Birkeland / RMCR
Judge Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as the newest justice on the Colorado Supreme Court

Judge Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as Colorado's next State Supreme Court Justice. He currently serves on the Colorado Court of Appeals. He received his undergrad degree at Yale University and went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He talked to statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland about his view of politics in the judicial process, why he became a lawyer, and some of his significant cases. 

Highlights from the Interview:

On Criticisms that Judges and Decisions are Too Political

"In terms of the U.S. Supreme Court, there's a perception that their cases are frequently political and 5-4 decisions. Historically that's not actually the case if you look at their complete docket. The highly sensitive socially issues tend to get a lot of the press and are sometimes, or even frequently 5-4 decisions, but many times the court decides unanimously."

On Representing Michael Jackson

"He was a tremendous witness and is the kind of person, and I think this might surprise people, you realized immediately that this was a genius, that you were in the presence of someone who is a musical genius."

On Whether there is a Difference Between Fairness and Justice

"I suppose you can view justice narrowly as applying rules of law and sometimes that comes out with a result that doesn't strike someone as fair, but I suppose the flip side of that is, we have to apply rules of law fairly and impartially to all and that is what I think results in equal justice."  

Judge Gabriel is taking a seat being vacated by Justice Gregory Hobbs.  In addition to being a judge, Hobbs is also a water advocate and poet.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin spoke with Hobbs in 2012 and asked him to read a few of his poems and talk about his perspective of the sacred importance of water.  You can revisit that piece here.