Judge Adam J. Espinosa was sworn in on January 13, 2015, and on January 14, began presiding over a civil docket in Denver County Court. Espinosa is no stranger to public service, or to learning, overcoming obstacles, and following rules. Before taking the bench, he worked in the trial division of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC), where he investigated, settled, and tried cases involving attorney misconduct before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and the Colorado Supreme Court. He spent nearly five years with OARC and became an expert at learning different areas of the law. Building on his 8 years of practicing criminal law as a district attorney in Weld and El Paso Counties, Espinosa had to become familiar with every area of law during his time with OARC. When investigating and prosecuting attorney misconduct, he had to know, and become a subject matter expert in, every field that was implicated by the noncomplying attorney. Espinosa handled attorney misconduct in civil and criminal matters including forcible entry and detainer cases, family law matters, misdemeanor and felony criminal matters, and many others.
He has become an expert at becoming an expert.
Part of Espinosa’s drive and ambition derives from his refusal to “self-select out.” During his youth, he was often told to take the path of least resistance. “Don’t go to college, go to trade school,” or “Explore other opportunities; law school is not the right place for you.” Every time an authority figure created doubt in Espinosa’s mind about his own abilities, he challenged himself to break down the roadblock. Espinosa applied for and received a college scholarship that he used toward his attendance at the University of Kansas. Next, Espinosa applied for and was accepted to Washburn Law School before he transferred to the University Of Denver Sturm College of Law. After graduation, he went on to clerk for the Honorable Michael A. Martinez in Denver District Court, the current Chief Judge for the Second Judicial District. Espinosa’s legal career is now coming full circle, starting and ending in Denver’s courthouses, and he feels privileged to return to his beginnings as a Denver County Court Judge.
Espinosa understands the weight his decisions will have and the seriousness of his work. He recognizes that all his rulings could have substantial impact on the lives of the people who appear in his court and the community as a whole.
Espinosa understands that ruling on whether or not someone goes to jail is a heavy decision a judge makes, but so are decisions that could result in someone’s loss of property or money.
The role of judge is a very important position, and he is honored that he has been selected and trusted to preside over matters greatly impacting individuals and the community.
When asked what advice he would offer lawyers appearing in his courtroom, Espinosa gives the standard response, “Be prepared and on time.” However, attorneys should take notice that Espinosa practices what he preaches, and he practices preparedness. Before conducting the interview giving rise to this profile, the author was asked to submit all questions in advance of their meeting. The following week, when the interview was held, Espinosa came prepared. He had reviewed all the questions, thought about his answers, made notes, created one fluid monologue which had theme, chronology, and attention to detail, and had even consulted with others concerning accurate answers to some of the more obscure interview questions. There is no question Judge Espinosa believes that putting in the work reaps the best results.
By Rachel Young, a domestic relations attorney practicing in the Denver Metro area. She graduated from Colorado State University with a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy and received her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.