By Jasmine Luna, Fellow Class of 2014
It is not every day that I am able to walk into the chambers of a Colorado Court of Appeals judge and discuss with them what exactly it is like to hold such a position. Thanks to my mentor, Juan Villaseñor, I recently had the opportunity to meet with Judge Rebecca R. Freyre, who gladly addressed many questions I had for her. Before meeting Judge Freyre, I had limited knowledge of the Colorado Court of Appeals. I had previously taken a tour of the building where she works and had a general idea of what that court did. I knew that the Court of Appeals considered civil or criminal cases that were appealed for one reason or another in order to get the case reviewed again with the hopes of a different outcome. Judge Freyre is the newest judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals.
When Juan and I first arrived to ask for Judge Freyre, I expected to just go up to her chambers and meet her there. However, Judge Freyre came all the way down to the lobby and personally greeted us, which I greatly appreciated. Once we stepped into her chambers, I thought about myself in the future. Her chambers reminded me to dream big because it could be me working in such a position in the future. I also appreciated that Judge Freyre mentioned how she worked as a public defender before becoming a judge because she was able to talk to me about her experience in front of a judge as well as being the judge in a case.
Judge Freyre thoroughly explained the work she does as an appellate judge. One thing I didn’t know until Judge Freyre explained it was how much the tables turn when a criminal case goes to the Court of Appeals. Instead of the prosecutors holding the burden of proof, the defendant who’s been found guilty now has the burden of proof.. I also appreciated how Judge Freyre mentioned that she liked being a Court of Appeals judge because it allows her to work with two other judges to decide the outcome of each case. I was actually surprised that three judges were assigned to work together. However, it makes sense since the parties who appeal are seeking a review of the trial judge’s decision.
After meeting with Judge Freyre, I have a greater appreciation for the Court of Appeals because the judges have an important responsibility to carefully review cases that have previously been reviewed by other courts. I have also been more open-minded about the type of law I want to practice in the future. In the past, I have said that I wanted to practice criminal and immigration law. However, the more I am exposed to different courts and types of law, I have the opportunity to see which are more interesting to me and why.