John was adopted by Pat and Bill Suthers when he was three weeks old. His father had trained at Fort Carson in 1942 and his parents moved to Colorado Springs in 1946. John attended grade school and high school in Colorado Springs, graduating from St. Mary’s High School in 1970.
John’s father died when he was fifteen and financing college was a challenge. He earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Notre Dame where he graduated magna cum laude. Law school at the University of Colorado followed where he graduated in the top quarter of his law school class. After graduation he became a Deputy District Attorney in Colorado Springs and was later promoted to Chief Deputy in charge of the Economic Crime Division. While there, he earned a reputation as an excellent trial lawyer.
After serving in the DA’s office for four years, John joined the law firm of Sparks, Dix and Enoch and quickly became a partner. He spent a total of ten years with the firm. In November 1988 John ran for and was elected District Attorney of the 4th Judicial District, which includes El Paso and Teller Counties. For the next eight years he managed the largest and most productive prosecution office in the state of Colorado. During that time he also served as President of the Colorado District Attorney’s Association (1994-1995) and President of the El Paso Country Bar Association (1991-1992).
In January 1999 Governor Bill Owens appointed John to his cabinet as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, based in Colorado Springs. In that position he managed an organization with 6,000 employees and a budget in excess of $500 million. In 2001 John was named by President George W. Bush to be United States Attorney for Colorado and he was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. John guided Colorado law enforcement through the turmoil of September 11, 2001 and the anti-terrorism efforts that followed. His office also pursued several high profile white collar criminal prosecutions during his tenure.
In January 2005 Governor Owens appointed John to become the 37th Attorney General of Colorado. He was overwhelmingly elected to the position by the people of Colorado in 2006 and again in 2010. As Attorney General he managed the largest law office in Colorado with 450 employees, including 275 attorneys. He has led efforts to protect Coloradans in the areas of water law, mortgage fraud, white collar crime, drug abuse, elder abuse and internet predators. He served as chairman of the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training Board that oversees the certification and training of peace officers in Colorado. He worked daily with leaders of both political parties in the legislature and three governors of Colorado and developed a reputation for respectful and collaborative leadership. Under John, the Colorado Attorney General’s office has also earned a national reputation for excellence. In 2012 his fellow Attorneys General from all fifty states and five territories awarded him the Kelly-Wyman Award, the highest honor given by the National Association of Attorneys General.
John’s reputation and excellent working relationships with his fellow Attorneys General helped him bring six major conferences for state Attorneys General to Colorado Springs. The most recent one filled the Broadmoor Hotel and generated a $2.4 million impact.
John is an adjunct professor at UCCS and teaches a class in Criminal Law in the Department of Public Affairs. His student evaluations have consistently been among the highest in the University.
John and his wife Janet have two daughters. Alison is a Deputy District Attorney in Denver and Kate is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, presently deployed to Djibouti, Africa. Janet also grew up in Colorado Springs. She earned her MBA from UCCS and is retired from HP/Agilent. She is a lifelong community volunteer in Colorado Springs, including service on the District 12 School Board and the City Planning Commission.