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					           Colorado
       Commissions on
     Judicial Performance



                    Jane B. Howell
                   Executive Director

             Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation


11/15/2010
    Historical Background

1966 Constitutional Amendment
 abolished partisan elections of
  judges and established a new merit
  selection system for the nomination,
  appointment, and retention of judges

   Aims to strike a balance between an
    independent judiciary while
    maintaining public accountability

11/15/2010
                Authority

1988 Statute (13-5.5-101 et seq.)
   General Assembly created
    Commissions on Judicial
    Performance to complement the
    merit selection process
    • From 1966 to 1990, judges were on the
      ballot for retention, but voters did not
      have information on their performance


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             Authority

Rules Governing the
 Commissions on Judicial
 Performance
   Promulgated by the State
    Commission
   Approved by the Supreme Court



11/15/2010
               Goals

 Provide voters with fair, responsible
  and constructive evaluations of trial
  and appellate judges and justices
  seeking retention
AND
 Provide judges and justices with
  information to help improve their
  professional skills as judicial
  officers
11/15/2010
    Commission Information

   One commission in each judicial
    district (22)
    • Evaluates district and county judges


   One state commission
    • Evaluates Supreme Court justices and
      Court of Appeals judges
    • Promulgates Rules


11/15/2010
    Commission Membership

   10 NONPARTISAN members

    • 6 non-attorneys
    • 4 attorneys

   4 appointing authorities

    •   Governor        (1   attorney   and   2   non-attorneys)
    •   Chief Justice   (1   attorney   and   2   non-attorneys)
    •   Senate Pres.    (1   attorney   and   1   non-attorney)
    •   Speaker         (1   attorney   and   1   non-attorney)


11/15/2010
        Commissioner Terms

   Four-year terms
    • Maximum of 2 terms
   If filling a vacancy, commissioner is
    eligible to serve balance of term plus
    two full terms
   Terms expire on Nov. 30 of odd years

   Appointing authority must appoint
    within 45 days of vacancy or State
    Commission makes the appointment

11/15/2010
               Officers

   Commissions shall elect a chair
    and vice-chair
    • One of whom is an attorney
    • One of whom is a non-attorney
   Two year terms expiring on Nov.
    30 of each odd numbered year


11/15/2010
                Training

   All state and district commissioners
    must attend a training session every
    2 years
   A commissioner who fails to meet
    the training requirement shall recuse
    from the consideration and vote on
    any matter involving the evaluation
    of a justice/judge
    • Unless excused by a 2/3 vote

11/15/2010
             Role of Chief Justice
               and Chief Judge

   The commission meets with the
    Chief Justice/Judge prior to
    beginning any evaluations for an
    overview of the court
   The meeting shall not concern the
    evaluation of any justice/judge’s
    performance, unless the commission
    had previously made a
    recommendation for improvement for
    a justice/judge being evaluated that
    year

11/15/2010
             Evaluation Process
               Commissioners must:



 All Evaluation Criteria is of equal
               weight
Commissioners must:
 Consider judge’s self-evaluation
 Observe 3 judges in the courtroom
 Review decisions/opinions
 Review judge statistics
 Consider survey results
 interveiw

11/15/2010
             Evaluation Process
                Commissioners may:


Commissioners may:
 Conduct public hearings
 Consider oral or written information
  from any person who has appeared
  before the judge during the previous
  year




11/15/2010
             Self-Evaluations

   Requires the justice or judge to
    conduct an appraisal of his or her
    performance
   Provides information to the
    commission that may be used during
    the interview
   Information is confidential and
    cannot be quoted in the narrative


11/15/2010
     Courtroom Observation

Each commissioner shall make
  unannounced visits to the courtroom
  to observe at least 3 justices/judges
• To become knowledgeable of the
  responsibilities and duties of
  justices and judges
• To observe demeanor, control over
  judicial proceedings, timeliness,
  communication skills, preparation,
  docket management
11/15/2010
         Review of Decisions

   District commissioners shall
    review 3 decisions of county
    and district judges for:
    •   Thoroughness of findings
    •   Clarity of expression
    •   Logical reasoning
    •   Application of law to the facts


11/15/2010
         Review of Decisions

        • State commission reviews 10*
          opinions of appellate judges for:
           • Adherence to the record
           • Clarity of expression
           • Logical reasoning
           • Application of the law to the facts
             presented
             *
             • 5 opinions, civil and criminal, including
               one separate concurrence or dissent
             • 5 other opinions from list of all opinions
               authored

11/15/2010
        Trial Judge Statistics

   District commissions review
    information on each trial judge
    about:
     • caseload and case types
     • Open case reports
     • Case aging reports
     • # of jury trials and jury trial days
     • # of court trials and court trial
       days
     • Sentence modifications (18-1.3-
       406 C.R.S.)
11/15/2010
Appellate Judge Statistics


   State commission reviews
    information on each
    appellate judge about:
     • Number of cases assigned
       to the justice/judge
     • Length of time
       justice/judge has had case
11/15/2010
             Surveys

Trial Judge
 Appellate judges survey district
  judges
 District judges survey county judges
 Attorneys who have appeared before
  the judge
   • Prosecutors
   • Public defenders
   • Private attorneys
11/15/2010
                  Surveys


    • Non-Attorneys who have appeared
      before the judge
        • Litigants
        • Jurors
        • Probation Officers
        • Crime victims
        • GALs
        • CASA volunteers
        • Peace officers

11/15/2010
             Surveys

Appellate Judge
 Trial judges

 Attorneys including
  prosecutors, public defenders,
  and private attorneys
 Other appellate judges and staff
  attorneys

11/15/2010
             Surveys

Critera on which judges are evaluated:
• Integrity
• Control over judicial proceedings
• Attentiveness
• Punctuality
• Legal Ability
• Knowledge and understanding of
  substantive, procedural, and
  evidentiary law
11/15/2010
                Surveys

   Communication skills
   Prompt case disposition
   Preparation
   Docket management
   Administrative skills
   Effectiveness in working with
    participants in the judicial process
   Service to the legal profession and
    the public
11/15/2010
             Surveys

Also survey on whether the judge:
• Is courteous
• Treats all parties who appear in
  the courtroom equally
• Provides clear written and oral
  decisions
• Displays appropriate demeanor

11/15/2010
               Surveys

   Names and addresses of
    respondents are gathered
    quarterly from two statewide
    databases
    • Court
    • CDAC (Colorado District Attorney’s
      Council)
   Surveys are mailed quarterly
11/15/2010
              Surveys

   Survey results (reports) include
    statistical analysis, verbatim
    comments from survey
    respondents (confidential), and
    ranking each judge with other
    judges in the same judicial
    district and statewide


11/15/2010
              Surveys

Retention judges:
• Survey reports delivered to
  commissioners by May 1 of retention
  year

Non-retention judges:
• Survey reports delivered in off year
  (interim reports)



11/15/2010
             Interview

Questions typically derive from:
 • Judge’s self-evaluation
 • Courtroom observation
 • Survey data and comments
 • Review of opinions/decisions
 • Any other written or oral
   information
11/15/2010
                Interview

    •   Docket
    •   Case Management (or lack thereof)
    •   Pro Se issues
    •   Sentencing practices
    •   Trial management skills
    •   Family law issues
    •   Information from public hearings


11/15/2010
             Recommendations

Based on:
 Interview

 Courtroom observations

 Survey data

 Self-evaluation

 Review of decisions

 Any other written or oral information



11/15/2010
             Recommendations

Recommendation of:
 Retain
 Do Not Retain
 No Opinion
    • Only given if the commission is
      equally divided
    • Not counted as for or against an
      individual

11/15/2010
             Recommendations

     A commission shall strongly
    consider a recommendation of
    “retain” for any justice or judge who
    receives an average of at least 3.0
    on a 4.0 scale for the questionnaire
    responses
   unless the other evaluation
    information indicates a significant
    performance problem, such as poor
    judicial temperament

11/15/2010
             Recommendations

   A commission shall strongly
   consider a recommendation of
   “do not retain” for any justice or
   judge who receives less than an
   average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
   unless:



11/15/2010
             Recommendations

   Docket or caseload cannot be
    appropriately managed due to nature or
    high number of cases (provisional judge)

   Commission believes that with additional
    experience on the bench and a
    commitment to improve judicial skills, the
    judge should be given more time
     • Judge must agree to be placed on an
       improvement plan

11/15/2010
                Narrative

   May include the following
    sources of information:
    •   Courtroom observation
    •   Review of opinions/decisions
    •   Interviews
    •   Information from public hearings
    •   Survey data
    •   Summary of survey comments
11/15/2010
                 Narrative

    5 short paragraphs – 500 words
   Retention recommendation
   Biographical data
        • Undergraduate and law schools
        • Educational degrees
        • Professional association activities
        • Recent awards and honors
        • Volunteer or community work

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                   Narrative

   Information specific to work
        • And any other previous substantial legal or
          public employment
   Description of performance
        • Including any areas of exemplary or
          distinguishing performance
        • And any areas of significantly poor
          performance
   Additional information
        • Including description of groups of
          respondents surveyed
        • Percentage of responses received
          recommending retention and non-retention

11/15/2010
             Narrative

   Any commission issuing a “Do
   Not Retain” recommendation
   shall, at the justice or judge’s
   request, include a response of
   not more than 100 words




11/15/2010
         Narrative Timeline

   The commission must deliver the draft
    narrative to the judge within 10 days of the
    interview
   Judge has 10 days to respond in writing
    requesting an additional interview
    (commission may also request additional
    interview)
   Additional interview must be held within 10
    days of the request
   Commission must deliver revised draft, if
    one, to the judge within 10 days of the
    additional interview


11/15/2010
             Improvement Plans

   Commission identifies area(s) of
    improvement in writing
   Commission notifies Jane Howell
   Jane Howell notifies the judicial educator
    at the State Court Administrator’s Office
   Judicial Educator, chief judge, and judge
    develop an improvement plan
   Commission and Jane Howell are no longer
    involved
   Contents of the plan are confidential
   Fact that there is an improvement plan
    may be recited in the narrative.

11/15/2010
             Complaints

  Any commissioner or judge may
  file a written complaint with the
  state commission for any
  alleged violation of the rules or
  statutes governing judicial
  performance commissions



11/15/2010
             Complaints

The state commission shall:
 provide a copy to the chair of
  the district commission, who
  shall provide a written response
 make an independent review
  and provide its determination to
  the district commission along
  with remedial instructions

11/15/2010
             Complaints

   The state commission may not
    reverse any retention
    recommendation
   but may cause a rebuttal to be
    published with the district
    commission’s recommendation



11/15/2010
             Complaints

   or direct a district commission
    to revise a narrative within 10
    days
   Should the district commission
    fail to satisfactorily comply, the
    state commission may, in its
    discretion, rewrite the narrative

11/15/2010
             Confidentiality

   Survey comments
   Commission members and staff shall
    maintain confidentiality with regard to
    evaluation materials and communications
   All interviews or deliberations directly
    concerning the retention of any judge
   All oral and written documentation
    received by the commission
   Content of Improvement Plans



11/15/2010
     After the narratives are
          made public

The commission’s designated
  spokesperson may publicly discuss:
 Recommendation

 Narrative Survey data

 Information from public hearings

 Recommendation for an
  improvement plan (not the contents)


11/15/2010
               Publication

   The day after judges must declare intent to
    stand for retention with the Secretary of
    State, narratives/recommendations/survey
    stats are posted at
    www.cojudicialperformance.com and
    www.courts.state.co.us
   Linked to www.coloradobluebook.com,
    www.leg.state.co.com and www.cobar.org/
   Issue 250+ press releases
   Published in the Legislative Council’s Blue
    Book
11/15/2010

				
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