Arapahoe County District Judge John Scipione resigns after clerk affair

An Arapahoe County district judge who failed to disclose an extramarital affair with a clerk and faced a sexual harassment complaint has resigned from the bench.

District Judge John E. Scipione stepped down as part of an agreement with the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline, which was investigating Scipione for violating the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct, according to court documents filed with the Colorado Supreme Court.

Scipione’s resignation “resolves the merits of the alleged rule violations,” according to a court notice filed Thursday and signed by Christopher Gregory, executive director of the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline.

As part of the formal inquiry, Scipione admitted to a year-long extramarital affair, when he was a magistrate, with a court clerk, according to court documents. There were also claims of sexual harassment against Scipione in which he referred to a second judicial assistant  “using a derogatory term” and that he “openly discussed his involvement in an ‘alternative lifestyle.’ ”

The preamble of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct states: “Judges should maintain the dignity of judicial office at all times and avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives.”

On at least three occasions, Scipione “used his position as a judicial officer to seek intimate relationships with Judicial Department employees or court personnel,” the filing said.

Scipione was appointed to the 18th Judicial District Court bench in September 2018. He served as a magistrate in Arapahoe County from 2012 to 2017. He did not disclose the affair when the applied to become a district judge, a failure to comply with court standards and procedures.

“Judge Scipione admits to knowingly engaging in conduct that violated Canon Rules,” according to the Stipulation for Resolution of Formal Proceedings filing.

“Separately, Judge Scipione contacted another judge and that judge’s probate clerk in a different jurisdiction to seek favorable treatment in probate proceedings involving Judge Scipione’s father’s estate,” the filing said.

On Aug. 4,  Scipione was suspended temporarily with pay after a request from the commission. The stipulation agreement calls for Scipione to receive a written public censure from the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Jared Polis will appoint a replacement to the bench, said Rob McCallum, spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Branch.

During his time on the district bench, the September 2019 lawsuit filed by the two oldest children of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen against their father’s appointed trustees was before Scipione. The lawsuit was dismissed.

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