The Colorado Judicial Department on Thursday announced Court Justice Nathan B. Coats has been named Colorado Supreme Court’s next Chief Justice, replacing retiring Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice effective June 30.
Coats is the 46th member of the Court to be named Chief Justice since Colorado became a state in 1876, according to a release Thursday from the Colorado Judicial Department.
“I am pleased and honored my colleagues have entrusted me with this very important role serving the judiciary and Colorado,” Coats said in the release. “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.”
After serving four and a half years as Chief Justice, Rice announced her retirement in March. She served 31 years as a judge, according to the release, with 20 of those years in the state’s highest court.
Before being appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court on April 24, 2000, Coats served as Chief Appellate Deputy District Attorney for the Second Judicial District from 1986 to 2000 and served in the Appellate Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in the 1970s and 1980s.
Coats has B.A. in economics from the University of Colorado and earned his J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School in 1977.
As the state’s highest court, the Colorado Supreme Court is the court of last resort. According to the release, the high court’s decisions are binding on all other Colorado state courts.
The Colorado Supreme Court includes seven justices who each serve ten-year terms. As Chief Justice, Coats will also serve as the executive head of the Colorado Judicial Branch and is the ex-officio chair of the Supreme Court Nomination Commission. He will appoint the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the Chief Judge of each of the state’s 22 judicial districts and be responsible for keeping a relationships between the judicial branch and the executive and legislative branches of the state’s government.