Judicial performance evaluations out

STATEWIDE – Performance evaluations of Colorado appellate and trial court judges standing for retention in the 2018 general election will be made available at www.ojpe.org on Aug 7. The performance evaluations also will be included in the “Colorado Voter Information Guide,” commonly referred to as the Blue Book, to be mailed this fall to every active registered voter household in Colorado.

The evaluations were conducted by the State Commission on Judicial Performance and 22 local judicial district performance commissions, each of which consists of six non-attorney members and four attorney members. These volunteer commissions are charged with providing voters fair, responsible and constructive evaluations of individual judges seeking retention.

“Commission members take this work seriously and strive to provide voters a fair and reliable performance assessment of every judge standing for retention in Colorado,” said Kent Wagner, executive director of the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation. “Citizens who review the commissions’ evaluations will be more informed when they answer the ballot question: Should this judge be retained? Citizens’ votes matter and will determine if a judge remains in office for another term.”

Judicial performance commissions evaluate judges’ integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, and administrative performance. Commissions consider responses to surveys on judicial performance, a judge’s self-evaluation, decisions authored by the judge, courtroom observations, case information, and any other written or oral information received. 

For 2018, surveys were sent to more than 133,000 people having some involvement with the judges, including prosecutors, public defenders, private attorneys, litigants (both represented and unrepresented), jurors, victims, law enforcement officers, court employees, court interpreters, and probation officers. Commissions also reviewed the results of interim survey results from past years.

The commissions then produced a narrative for each judge with a statement of whether the judge “meets performance standards,” or “does not meet performance standards.”

In 1966, Colorado voters approved a merit selection system for judicial appointments. This citizen-involved process helps ensure that Colorado judges are highly qualified, fair, and impartial. It is considered the gold standard that safeguards equal treat?ment for all Coloradoans coming into court. Commissions on Judicial Performance were created in 1988 by the Colorado General Assembly to provide voters with fair, responsible and constructive evaluations of judges and justices seeking retention. The results also provide judges with information to help improve their professional skills as judicial officers.