Shouldn’t we expect the judicial branch to follow the law? Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Colorado law requires the state commission on judicial performance (which makes recommendations to you regarding whether Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges should be retained) to develop surveys for persons affected by justices and judges, including but not limited to 1) attorneys, 2) jurors, 3) litigants, 4) law enforcement personnel, 5) attorneys within the district attorneys’ and 6) public defender’s offices, 7) employees of the court, 8) court interpreters, 9) employees of probation offices, 10) employees of local departments of social services, and 11) victims of crimes.
How many individuals in these groups received surveys over the past 8-10 years on our Supreme Court and Court of Appeals’ judges up for retention in 2016? (There are 10 Court of Appeals’ judges and 1 Supreme Court justice up for retention in 2016). The information below comes from the state commission’s reports.
11. Victims of crimes: 0
10. Employees of departments of social services: 0
9. Employees of probation offices: 0
8. Court interpreters: 0
7. Employees of the court: 0
6. Public Defender’s offices: Unknown. Assume some attorneys below were in the PD office.
5. District Attorneys’ offices: Unknown. Assume some attorneys below were in the PD office.
4. Law enforcement personnel: 0
3. Litigants: 0
2. Jurors: 0
1. Attorneys: an average of 281 evaluated each justice or judge. An average of 1,675 attorneys received surveys for each justice or judge. The number surveys sent per justice or judge in 2013 and 2011 averaged 2,364. In 2016, the average number of surveys sent for each justice or judge was drastically reduced to 237.
The state commission hasn’t complied with the law because it didn’t send surveys to all the groups it is required to send surveys.
Furthermore, the law is insufficient. The number of surveys sent to the groups below regarding Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges:
General public: 0
The number of public hearings held to obtain public input on Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges: 0
The number of Coloradans affected by the rulings of these judges:
Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges make statewide policy with their rulings.
The state performance commission recommended that all Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges be retained. This is despite the fact that even with this unlawful sampling of people, as many as 25% would recommend against retention of a judge in a sampling.
This is also despite the fact that the state commission has no idea whether any justice or judge they’ve evaluated has been disciplined because such information is required to be kept confidential by the state constitution.
Oh, we forgot to mention that in 2016 the state commission decided to send surveys to a group they are not required to send surveys to: judges. 211 surveys were sent to other judges regarding each Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judge. So, 66% of surveys completed in 2016 for Sup. Ct. and Ct. of App. Judges were completed by other judges.
The amount of deference you owe to the state commission’s recommendations to you regarding appellate court judges: 0
If you want to change this situation, vote “Shall NOT be retained” on judges
Who is our Chief? Nancy Rice is Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.