Judge Theresa A. Spahn was recently appointed to the Denver County Court and began presiding over the County Court protection order docket in October. I had the pleasure of interviewing her after her second week on the bench as a Denver County Court judge. However, Spahn is not new to serving as a judicial officer. She served as a District Court Magistrate in Adams County for more than seven years. While there, she presided over domestic, dependency and neglect, adoption and other juvenile and criminal cases.
When she was part of the Magistrate Retention Review, she received a 97% approval rate.
When I first met Judge Spahn, I was struck by her kindness, compassion, and desire to make a difference in people’s lives. Spahn expressed that she felt blessed to have had a successful and meaningful legal career. She also said that surprisingly, prior to beginning her legal career, she never would have guessed that she would become an attorney.
Spahn grew up in a working class neighborhood in Denver near the border of Adams County. The people in her community inspired her to further her education and ultimately obtain her law degree. Spahn graduated from Metropolitan State College—the first member in her family to obtain a college degree. She received her J.D. degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Spahn is excited to be a judicial officer in Denver because she has strong ties to this community.
Spahn has extensive legal experience both on the bench and as a Deputy District Attorney. As a District Attorney, she served as a Felony Trial Deputy, prosecuting all levels of felony charges. Additionally, Spahn worked as a district attorney in Mesa County specializing in Crimes Against Children.
One of the most challenging and rewarding positions in her career thus far was acting as the founding Executive Director of the Colorado Office of the Child’s Representative (OCR). Spahn helped build this state agency from the ground up. OCR provides children in Colorado courts with attorney representation in matters such as dependency and neglect, domestic relations, and juvenile delinquency. As Director of OCR, Spahn oversaw attorneys throughout the state of Colorado and managed an $18 million budget. She raised the practice standards for attorneys and assisted in the advancement of child-friendly laws and policies on both the state and national levels.
Spahn has also worked in private practice. Most recently, she was a partner at Wedgle & Spahn, where she practiced family law litigation, criminal law, and dispute resolution including mediation, arbitration and special master work.
Ultimately, she missed serving on the bench and desired to resume her work as a judicial officer.
Spahn feels very fortunate that her legal career led to her current appointment as a Denver County Court judge. She is thrilled to be a judicial officer in Denver because “it truly is the people’s court.” The people coming into her courtroom come from all walks of life. She enjoys having the opportunity to work with a culturally and ethnically diverse community.
For the attorneys practicing in her courtroom, she gives the following advice: be prepared and be on time. Her docket is extremely busy. Currently, she is hearing Protection Order cases all day, every day. The issues range from domestic violence to neighbors having disputes. Spahn is excited to be back on the bench making decisions and presiding over matters.
In her free time, she enjoys being with her family and friends. Spahn also enjoys being active and spending time in nature.
By Alison Ruggiero, who practiced as a licensed social worker for more than six years working in the areas of domestic violence and with children experiencing developmental delays. Her work with children and families led her to pursue a legal career where she could continue to make a difference in people’s lives. Alison received her J.D. degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.