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William Blair Sylvester

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William Blair Sylvester
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Current Court Information:
Colorado Eighteenth Judicial District
Title:   Former judge
Active:   2001-2014
Chief:   2006-2014
Past position:   18th Judicial District Attorney's Office
Past term:   1991-2001
Past position 2:   Attorney in private practice
Personal History
Undergraduate:   University of Maryland, 1973
Law School:   University of Georgia, 1976
Military service:   U.S. Army

William Blair Sylvester was the chief judge of the Colorado Eighteenth Judicial District Court. He began serving on the court on August 1, 2001, and he became chief judge in October of 2006. Sylvester officially retired on July 1, 2014 and Carlos Armando Samour, Jr. has been named to replace him as chief judge of the court by Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice.[1]


Sylvester served in the U.S. Army before receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in 1973. He then graduated from the University of Georgia with a J.D. in 1976.[2]


Prior to January 1991, Sylvester was an attorney in private practice.[2]



Sylvester was retained to his seat in the district court with 64.4% of the vote in 2010.[3][4]

Main article: Colorado judicial elections, 2010

Retention recommendation

Sylvester was recommended for retention by the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation.[5] Read Sylvester's judicial performance review here.

Notable cases

Colorado movie theater shooting

Sylvester presided over the case of James Holmes, who was accused of opening fire on an audience at a Colorado movie theater on July 20, 2012. Holmes faced over 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded during the shooting spree.[6][7]

Holmes' first court appearance was on July 23, 2012. At the hearing, he was informed of his constitutional rights. The prosecution requested and was granted more time to complete their investigation and officially charge Holmes. At the time, the prosecution noted they could seek the death penalty in the case.[8]

On August 14, 2012, Judge Sylvester denied a motion filed by news organizations to open the court's records on Holmes. Sylvester also kept a gag order in place, in order to protect the ongoing investigation.[9]

At a hearing on March 12, 2013, attorneys for the defendant told the judge they were not prepared to enter a plea. At the time, it was believed the defense would enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. They requested more time to prepare their case, but could not give a specific date when they might be ready to enter a plea. However, in order to move the case along, Sylvester entered a simple not guilty plea on behalf of Holmes and set a trial date for August 5.[10][11]

Sylvester recused himself from the case in April 2013 and named Carlos Armando Samour, Jr. to take over as judge.[12]

See also

External links


ColoradoColorado Supreme CourtColorado Court of AppealsColorado District CourtsColorado county courtsDenver Probate Court, ColoradoDenver Juvenile CourtUnited States District Court for the District of ColoradoUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitColorado countiesColorado judicial newsColorado judicial electionsJudicial selection in ColoradoColoradoTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg