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State of Colorado

Methods of Judicial Selection: Colorado

Retention Evaluation Programs

In 1988, the general assembly established judicial performance commissions throughout the state to provide voters with information about the performance of judges seeking retention. There is a state commission on judicial performance that evaluates appellate court judges standing for retention, and there are commissions in each judicial district that evaluate district and county court judges. Each commission is composed of ten members, including four lawyers and six nonlawyers. The speaker of the house and the president of the senate each appoint one lawyer member and one nonlawyer member; the governor and the chief justice of the supreme court each appoint one lawyer member and two nonlawyer members. Click here to view commission rules.

Evaluations of district and county court judges are based on questionnaires completed by those who have come into contact with the judge, including attorneys, litigants, jurors, crime victims, law enforcement personnel, social services caseworkers, probation officers, and court personnel. Trial judge evaluations also incorporate relevant docket and sentencing statistics, an interview with the judge, a self-evaluation completed by the judge, and information from other appropriate sources. Evaluations of appellate judges are based on interviews with the state commission on judicial performance and surveys of attorneys and trial court judges. Each evaluation includes a narrative profile with a "Retain," "Do Not Retain," or "No Opinion" recommendation. Click here for the 2010 judicial performance reviews.  

 In 2008, legislation was passed calling for both midterm and retention-year evaluations of judges and creating the office of judicial performance evaluation within the judicial department. The legislation also specifies the criteria on which judges are to be evaluated and requires the inclusion of certain information in judges' written evaluations.

Also in 2008, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System conducted a survey of Colorado judges regarding their views of the state's judicial performance evaluation program.

For more information about Colorado's judicial performance evaluation program, see Judicial Retention Evaluation Programs in Four States.