Letter: Time to judge the judges | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Time to judge the judges

Have you ever wondered who “judges the judges” in the 9th Judicial District, consisting of Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties?

The Judicial Performance Commission does, and the results are published in the “Blue Book” you get at election time.

In 1966 Colorado voters abolished partisan elections for judges and established a merit system for nomination, appointment and retention of judges in the state court system. Under this system, merit is considered by examining factors such as legal training and background, judicial temperament, intellectual ability, neutrality, fairness and capability for upholding the law.

Judicial Performance Commissions were created in 1988 by the Colorado General Assembly to provide voters with fair, responsible, constructive evaluations of trial judges seeking retention. The evaluations also provide judges with information that can be used to improve their professional skills.

The governor, chief justice, president of the Senate, and speaker of the House appoint six nonattorneys and four attorneys to staggered four-year terms. The process is designed to strike a well-calibrated balance by holding judges accountable to the public without embroiling them in election politics.

Evaluations are based on courtroom observations, review of written decisions, personal interview with the judge, a self-evaluation completed by the judge, interviews with representatives of the District Attorney and Public Defenders offices, and survey results completed by attorneys, jurors, litigants, probation officers, caseworkers, court employees and peace officers.

The results of these evaluations and recommendations of the Commission for the 9th Judicial District — Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties — are available in Legislative Council’s “Colorado Voters Guide,” also known as the “Blue Book,” found at pages J-14 to J-19 in this year’s edition. It has been mailed to voters.  You can also go to the web: http://www.ojpe.org.

Phil Walter

Public Information Liaison

9th Judicial District Performance Commission

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