Jennifer Torrington became a Denver District Court judge on July 8, 2016. Although Torrington is a new District Court judge, she is no stranger to the bench and has served as a magistrate since 2004. When I met with her in chambers, she turned a water-sand picture upside down to “help us relax” and told me about her career and journey to where she is now.
Judge Torrington grew up in Tucson, Arizona and moved to Colorado to attend law school at the University of Colorado. Following her graduation in 1999, she clerked for Judge Karen Ashby in Denver Juvenile Court. After that, she worked on dependency and neglect cases as a guardian ad litem and counsel for respondent parents. In 2004, the Denver Juvenile Drug Court received a federal grant to hire a new magistrate. Excited by the alternatives that drug court provided to a deserving population of juveniles with co-occurring disorders, Torrington applied for the position. She was selected and went on to serve as a magistrate in Denver Juvenile Court for 10 years. She started out working on drug cases. Her docket eventually expanded to include domestic issues, like child support and parenting time and decision-making.
When a magistrate position became open in Denver District Court in 2014, Torrington decided she was ready for new material and new challenges. She was also attracted to Denver District Court’s reputation as a very collegial bench. Upon joining the bench as a magistrate, she quickly realized that “it is a reputation that is deserved.” As a magistrate, she handled post-decree domestic cases.
In 2016, two District Court judge vacancies were created by the retirement of Judge Michael Mullins and the resignation of Judge Ann B. Frick. Torrington’s colleagues in Denver District Court encouraged her to apply. “It was the most meaningful professional compliment, as it came from people I truly admired, both personally and professionally,” she says. Torrington jokingly described the judicial application process as “an opportunity for a mid-life crisis.” She considers herself to be a private person, but the application requires you to share details of your life to complete strangers. “It was nerve-wracking!” The judicial nominating commission also considers personal recommendations and comments about the applicants. While she found it hard to ask for letters of support from friends and colleagues, she was soon overwhelmed by everyone’s willingness to help by writing letters, reaching out to their professional networks and sharing their own experiences with the process. “Regardless of the outcome, I was given the tremendous gift of people’s kindness.”
On April 14, 2016, Governor John Hickenlooper announced her appointment, and she took the bench in July. Torrington is currently serving in a domestic relations division and will rotate to either a civil or criminal docket in about 18 months. She looks forward to the challenge. She appreciates when attorneys in her courtroom are courteous and focused on resolution and makes a point to thank counsel when she sees this in action.
Judge Torrington is “thrilled and proud” to be a member of the Denver District Court team — a team that she has found to be conscientious, knowledgeable and collegial. She feels very fortunate to have found a job that she loves. “I have fun every day, even on long days. I love the work.” D