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Who Judges the Judges?

The question is sometimes asked, “Who judges the judges?”

Judges in Colorado are initially appointed by the governor. The retention of judges after their initial term is a matter for the voters to decide.

A statewide commission evaluates the appellate judges of the Colorado Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, while district commissions evaluate district and county court judges.

There is a Judicial Performance Commission for each judicial district in the state. Each consists of six non-attorneys and four attorneys. They are appointed by the governor and by the majority and minority leaders of the state Senate and House. Thus a bipartisan commission.

The 9th Judicial District consists of Rio Blanco, Pitkin and Garfield counties. This year the JD 9 Commission had only one judge to evaluate. That commission found District Court Judge Denise K. Lynch met performance standards.

In evaluating Judge Lynch’s performance, each commissioner observed her in court and conducted interviews with the public defender, the district attorney, the chief judge for the 9th Judicial District and Judge Lynch. The commission also reviewed surveys filled out by attorneys, non-attorneys (such as jurors and litigants), and court personnel; a self-evaluation completed by the judge; and performance statistics relating to her docket management.

Judge Lynch received a B.A. from Michigan State University and a law degree summa cum laude from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School at Western Michigan University. From 2001 to 2006, she was an assistant county attorney for Garfield County.

More details are in the State Ballot Information Booklet (also known as the Blue Book) and on the Office of Judicial Performance website: http://www.ojpe.org.

The ultimate answer to who judges the judges is that you do.

Thomas J. Baker

Public information liaison, 9th Judicial District Performance Commission


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