County Judge — Boulder — John F. Stavely
Do not retain
Judges at all levels must uphold the Constitution. That’s why Boulder voters must remove Judge John F. Stavely from his position.
Stavely has held a county judge position since 2001 and won retention in 2004 and 2008.
How he won in 2008 is a mystery, considering the way he treated the right to a free press in 2005.
The Daily Camera published an assault suspect’s mugshot on its website in July 2005. They’d gotten the photo, which is public record, from the Boulder Police Department.
When a Camera photographer showed up later that day at Stavely’s courtroom for a hearing, though, the judge turned him away — and handed him a handwritten order requiring the paper to take the suspect’s photo off their website.
That’s the part where your eyebrows shoot up, and you start to memorize “No on Stavely.” The whole First Amendment concept of not abridging the right to a free press seems to have escaped him. A judge can declare a trial closed to the press in certain situations, but trying to control a newspaper’s website is way beyond a judge’s control.
The Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation compliments Stavely’s efficiency and calls him fair, and Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett says Stavely “is one of the best county court trial judges I have ever seen.”
So are we overreacting? Are we making too much of Stavely’s one misstep when he’s got all these other qualities?
No way. It won’t be hard to find another judge who’s efficient and fair and doesn’t treat First Amendment rights like they’re mere suggestions.