Bench Dream Team

The Bench Dream Team is comprised of volunteer justices, judges, senior lawyers and professionals in the Colorado legal community.  Led by Justice Melissa Hart, Justice Will Hood, Justice Monica Marquez and Judge Don Toussaint, the Bench Dream Team strives to increase diversity on the Colorado Bench through a series of educational, community outreach and mentorship initiatives, including:

The “You Be the Judge” CLE program - this half-day CLE program featuring justices, judges, nominating commission members and the Denver City Attorney seeks to educate attendees about the process of being a judge and how to navigate the application process. The program, offered in alternating odd years, was last presented in April, 2019.

The Coffee Brigade - This group comprised of several dozen judges from throughout the State are willing to meet with individual legal practitioners over coffee or a phone call to discuss what it is like to be a judge or justice, and the process to become a judge/justice.  Lawyers interested in the Brigade should contact us at

Judicial Candidate Team - For many years, Judges Terry Fox and Gary Jackson, along with a select group of senior lawyers, have been providing mentorship and practical guidance to diverse and female candidates applying for judgeships, including application and process advice, extensive mock interviews, and more.  If you are interested in applying for a judgeship, you can contact us at  

Recently, Judge Wiley Daniel Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Judge Gary Jackson, wrote to highlight the lack of judicial diversity in Colorado's State Courts.  Read Judge Jackson's blog here.

In 2017 and 2018, CLI coordinated with the Colorado Lawyer to publish a series of articles which explored what it means to be a judge or justice at various levels of the state court system.  This bi-monthly series featured insight from seven Colorado legal professionals, judges and justices.  Each article focused on the author's unique career path and personal journey to the bench.    

November 2017:  Introducing "You Be the Judge" by Karen Hester

Karen Hester was the CEO of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (at the time of publication). Ms. Hester is is an accomplished trainer, presenter, facilitator and industry leader on the topic of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. In 2015. she was named a Diversity Champion by the National Association for Law Placement's Diversity and Inclusion Section, which recognized 11 individually nationally.

December 2017:  Becoming a Colorado Municipal Court Judge by Judge Mares

Cynthia D. Mares began her four-year appointment as associate judge for the City of Aurora in January 2017. Before her judicial appointment, she was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper on October 26, 2012 to serve as Arapahoe County Public Trustee; she was reappointed for a second term expiring February 1, 2019. Judge Mares is a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism. She previously served as assistant regulation counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and as a deputy state public defender in Denver.

February 2018:  My Journey to the Bench, From South Korea to the Crow Reservation to Denver County Court by Judge Malone

Chelsea Malone is a Denver County Court judge presiding over a civil protection order docket.  She serves on the board of directors for APABA Colorado.

April 2018:  My Experience as an Administrative Law Judge by Judge Cayce

Kara R. Cayce is an administrative law judge in the Workers' Compensation Unit of the Office of Administrative Courts. She previously worked as a hearing officer in the Unemployment Insurance Division of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and as a corporate and securities attorney. Judge Cayce is a member of the CBA and the Sam Cary Bar Association. She obtained her B.A. from Temple University and her JD from Georgetown University Law Center. 

June 2018:  Be You, My Path to the District Court by Judge Timbreza

Lance Phillip Timbreza is a district court judge in the 21st Judicial District (Mesa County). He currently serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Bar Foundation, is a member of the CBA Executive Council, and is a commissioner on the Chief Justice's Commission on Professional Development. He is also a board member of the Meas Country Pro Bono Project and the 21st Judicial Districts Access to Justice Committee.

August/September 2018:  My Meandering Path to the Bench by Judge Ashby

Karen M. Ashby is a judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals, where she has served since December 2013.  Before her appointment to the Court of Appeals, she served as a judge on the Denver Juvenile Court for over 15 years and was the presiding judge for approximately 15 years.

December 2018:  We Are Called by Justice Márquez

Monica M. Márquez is a Colorado Supreme Court Justice. She serves as a liaison justice and chair of several court committees. She is a longtime member of the Minoru Yasui Inn of Court, served as a board member of the CHBA and LGBT Associations, coached mock trial at La Academia, and mentors a young Latina in the Law School Yes We Can Program.

Articles published with permission from Colorado Lawyer. Coordinating Editor, Justice William W. Hood III, contributed to the articles by Judge Ashby, Judge Malone, Justice Márquez, Judge Timbreza, Judge Cayce and Judge Mares.


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Center for Legal Inclusiveness
1776 N Lincoln Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80203-1028

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