Colorado judge who threatened stepson with AR-15-style rifle resigns

A Colorado judge who threatened his stepson with an AR-15-style rifle during an argument in 2021 resigned Sunday.

Mark Thompson, who served as chief judge for Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties until he was demoted and then temporarily suspended for threatening his stepson in July 2021, resigned because of “personal circumstances,” according to resignation letters he submitted Sunday to Fifth Judicial Chief Judge Paul Dunkelman and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian Boatright.

The retirement will take effect Jan. 13, he wrote in the letters, obtained by The Denver Post on Tuesday.

“I apologize for the short notice, but personal circumstances leave me no alternative,” he wrote.

Thompson was removed from his leadership position as chief judge for the Fifth Judicial District and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the 2021 threat. But he was allowed to continue serving as a judge for the district, working solely on non-criminal cases during a year-long disciplinary probation period.

Thompson pointed an AR-15-style rifle at his stepson’s chest during an argument while the judge was under “significant emotional strain” from both illness and death in his family, and threats to his life related to his work as a judge, a disciplinary investigation found.

Thompson became angry when his stepson’s friend drove “too fast” past Thompson while he was walking his dog after dark, according to the investigation. Thompson allegedly threatened to “put a .45 through (the friend’s) head” if the friend continued to drive fast, authorities found.

“It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to serve the people of the Fifth Judicial District and State of Colorado for the past 12 years,” Thompson wrote.

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