The failure of the “judicial performance evaluation” commissions illustrated by Larimer County Judges Blair & Gilmore
Colorado voters are being bombarded with a series of ads (on radio, television, and online) promoting the “evaluations” of incumbent judges and justices conducted by the various “Commissions on Judicial Performance Evaluation” at both district and state levels. This so-called “education campaign” funded by legal establishment special-interest groups is spending tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to convince Coloradans that “all is well” with the judicial system in Colorado.
Over the decades-long history of the “performance review” commissions, they have NOT ONCE recommended a “do not retain” vote for a Colorado Supreme Court justice (historically, that’s a 100% endorsement of the incumbent); the commissions have NOT ONCE recommended a “do not retain” vote for any Colorado Court of Appeals judge (again, a 100% endorsement); and the commissions have only very rarely (16 times, counting this year) recommended a “do not retain” vote for ANY judge at ANY level (an astounding 99% endorsement rate). According to these “evaluations” there is no need to remove ANY of the incumbent judges or justices appearing on the ballot this year. ”Move along – nothing to see here.”
Even Fidel Castro or the late Saddam Hussein didn’t receive that level of “retain” votes…
Clear The Bench Colorado has previously noted deficiencies in the “evaluations” generated by the “judicial performance review” process; the State Commission on Judicial Performance (the commission “reviewing performance” of Colorado Supreme Court justices and Colorado Court of Appeals judges) this year continued their decades-long pattern of 100% “retain” recommendations by endorsing incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices Bender, Martinez, and Rice despite their consistent pattern of disregarding clear constitutional language in a succession of rulings, and many of the other commissions have similarly failed in their duty to provide substantive, useful information on which Colorado voters can base an informed decision.
A recent Law Week article highlighted the failure of the 8th Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance to hold two Larimer County judges – guilty of conspiring to hide evidence which sent an innocent man to jail for 10 years – accountable for their past performance:
On Aug. 3, Blair and Gilmore were unanimously recommended for retention by the Larimer County Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. The commission acknowledged the concerns over the Masters case, including the public censure both judges received from the state Supreme Court’s presiding disciplinary judge for failing to ensure Masters’ defense counsel received potentially helpful evidence, but stated that “the community is well served” by the judges continued presence on the bench.
“Well-served” by the continued presence on the bench of judges who have demonstrated a lack of integrity and ethical behavior which resulted in sending an innocent man to jail for 10 YEARS?
Defense attorney Erik Fischer (who had defended Tim Masters) commented:
I think we would be better served by having them continue to serve in a different capacity than as judges.”
Perhaps having them “serve” in the “different capacity” of making license plates might be more appropriate…
According to the language of the so-called “evaluations” included in the commission reports,
The Commission was charged with evaluating Judge Blair [and Judge Gilmore] on integrity [emphasis added], legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance and service to the legal profession and the public.
Read for yourself the commission’s “performance evaluation” of Judge Blair along with the commission’s “performance evaluation” of Judge Gilmore - then decide for yourself if the commission recommendation to “retain” these judges in office passes the “smell” test.
Colorado voters have been ill-served by the lack of critical review and evaluation of judicial performance for decades. The Colorado Commissions on Judicial Performance Evaluation, in failing to provide substantive information that differentiates between judges who rule consistently in accordance with the law (and Colorado DOES have many GOOD judges) and those who don’t – or who demonstrate other serious deficiencies in character or performance – are contributing to increased citizen skepticism about our judges, our courts, and the rule of law generally. Undermining citizen confidence in the rule of law is corrosive to a society – if we are not reasonably assured that ALL citizens will receive fair, equal, and impartial treatment by our courts – applying the law, as written (not making it up as they go along, to suit the judge’s personal preference or political agenda) people will pursue justice by other means.
Clear The Bench Colorado calls upon attorneys of integrity (we know you’re out there somewhere), journalists with a sense of justice, and other people of principle to Sound Off! in true defense of our system of justice – by holding accountable those judges and justices who have failed in their duty to support the Constitution and uphold the rule of law.
Become an informed voter; conduct your own evaluation of the performance of these justices, based on how (and whether) they follow the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. Armed with information, Yes, you can exercise your right to vote “NO” on the four (er, now three) ‘unjust justices’ of the Mullarkey Majority (Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice, and soon to be minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) who need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your homes and business from seizure by abuse of eminent domain, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and your contributions – and vote “NO” on retaining these unjust justices in the November elections!