DENVER (AP) – Denver District Judge William Hood III has been tapped to join the Colorado Supreme Court. Hood will replace retiring Chief Justice Michael Bender.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the choice Friday. Hood will serve an appointed term of two years, then face voters for a retention election to a possible 10-year term.

Hood is Hickenlooper’s second appointment to the state’s high court.

Bender is set to retire Jan. 7. Justice Nancy Rice will take his place as chief justice.

The 50-year-old Hood has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007. He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Denver.

“Justice Hood is going to be a great justice,” said Hickenlooper, who considered three nominees.

The pick surprised some. One of the finalists, El Paso District Judge David Prince, was considered a front-runner because he’d been a finalist before. Also, El Paso hasn’t sent a judge to the state’s top court in more than 50 years.

Hickenlooper said geography was a consideration but that his top priority was finding the best fit to represent all of Colorado.

Hood spoke only briefly at the announcement.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to join the all-star cast” of the current court, Hood said. “I look forward to doing all that I can to show that I deserve the vote of confidence that the governor has given me.”

Hickenlooper’s first appointment to the court happened in 2011, when he selected Brian Boatright to fill a vacancy.

– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

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