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BROOMFIELD - People expect certain things of judges, like fairness, compassion - and the ability to help them get out of a traffic ticket.

At least that's what Patrick Murphy's friends are telling him. Murphy was invested Friday as a district court judge for the 17th Judicial District.

Murphy will hear cases ranging from juvenile crimes to murders originating in Broomfield and Adams counties.

Murphy has worn several hats during his legal career. The 58-year-old Broomfield resident began as a state and federal prosecutor before starting a private practice and working as a defense attorney. He has litigated criminal and civil cases and, until recently, was a partner with the firm Purvis, Gray & Murphy.

Thanks to an appointment by Gov. Bill Ritter, now Murphy will wear a robe.

"I've sat on every chair in the courtroom except the judge's chair,â Murphy said. "It's going to be a new experience.â

John Purvis, one of Murphy's former partners, said Murphy's dedication to public service makes him a great choice.

"I think this is the kind of thing he's wanted to do for many years,â he said. "It's ideal for him and great for the community.â

Friends think he's kidding when he tells them he was appointed, Murphy said. They later congratulate him and jokingly ask for favors.

Murphy had to go through a rigorous process before he was appointed. He was reviewed by a nominating committee made up of judges and lawyers who consulted his colleagues. He was one of six candidates Ritter could appoint to two open seats.

Getting the endorsement of his peers means a lot to him, Murphy said.

"I'm just so honored,â he said.

To learn how to do the job, Murphy has been shadowing the district's chief judge, Harlan Bockman. Murphy described the soon-to-retire Bockman as a "legend in Colorado.â

"He's considered one of the best trial judges in the state,â Murphy said. "If I turn out to be half the judge Bockman is, I'll be successful.â

But Murphy still sees ways the judiciary could improve. One of his major goals is to demystify the legal process for the average person.

"There's a fear of the justice system because people don't understand it,â Murphy said. "One of my goals is to explain the process and procedures to the public.â

Knowledge helps level the playing field, he said.

"They feel they can come to the court and have a chance.â

Murphy's already been doing some teaching. He helped start the mock trial program at Broomfield High School. The program grew to be one of the largest in the state.

Murphy's career has taken some twist and turns. Before studying law he was a reporter, a grave digger, a teacher and a construction worker. He graduated from the University of Colorado Law School in 1975.

Murphy has already come up against the limits of his power. He can't help his friends with traffic tickets, and his wife and four kids have let him know they're not going to let him gavel them down.

"My kids think it's really cool that their dad's a judge, but they told me I have no judicial authority around the house,â Murphy said.