Colorado: bill calls for overhaul of state’s judicial performance evaluation system

A plan to overhaul Colorado’s system of judicial performance evaluations has been filed in the House. HB 1235 would impact both the State Commission on Judicial Performance and the District Commissions on Judicial Performance.

Among the bill’s provisions:

  • The state commission must include 1 representative from each judicial district in state (the state has 22 districts)
  • Reduces terms on state commission from 4 years down to 2 years
  • Each commission must have an annual public meeting at which the public is invited to attend and confidentially comment on any justice or judge
  • Allows public to submit for commission review and all opinions and orders written by the judge
  • Judicial evaluations must take place every 2 years and be made public at that time (currently only needs to be made public during retention year)
  • Makes all commission proceedings subject to open meetings law
  • Prohibits district commissioners appointed by chief justice from serving on state commission
  • Changes “do not retain” criteria, provides for automatic “do not retain” recommendation if 2/3rds of attorneys surveyed recommend the judge or justice not be retained
  • Prohibits District Court Administrator from serving as staff to the local district commission (they may serve as staff to another district’s commission)
  • Prohibits state commission from restricting information given to district commissions or from reviewing determinations made by district commissions
  • Annually release to commissioners the judges’ credit reports, driving records, criminal histories, and public financial disclosures

Interestingly, the bill was not sent to the House Judiciary Committee but into the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.