Evaluations 2012

Evaluations of Judicial Performance – 2012

Colorado does not elect judges to office in contested elections (they are appointed by the governor from a list of 3 nominees selected by a judicial nominating commission), but they are required to receive voter approval to retain office (on a 4, 6, 8, or 10 year schedule based on the level of the court).

(NOTE: click here for 2014 Evaluations of judicial performance)

The Colorado judges seeking retention in 2012 (appearing on the November 2012 general election ballot with a “Yes” or “No” vote option) are:

  • 1 Supreme Court Justice
  • 6 Court of Appeals judges
  • 83 District & County judges

Colorado Supreme Court:

The following judicial performance review scorecard summarizes some of the Colorado Supreme Court cases over the last decade which have had the greatest impact on the largest number of Colorado Citizens, and how the incumbent justice appearing on the November ballot voted in each case.

Clear The Bench Colorado realizes that it is impossible to present an analysis of every case on which these justices voted; we have selected those cases addressing important constitutional questions.  Our methodology closely tracks that supposedly used by the state Commission on Judicial Performance (reviewing cases as the benchmark for assessing judicial performance).

The difference is that we actually publicize the decisions and votes in each case…

For information on each case, click the link (case name) for a brief analysis of the constitutional issues and impact, a link to the ruling’s full text, and links to related commentary for additional information.

(Information on judges from other levels of court are below the Supreme Court matrix)



Summary of Judicial Performance
Voted 6-2-2 upholding the Constitution.

HALL v. MORENO (December 2011) (Congressional Redistricting)

The majority ruling in this case usurped the authority of the legislative branch to conduct congressional redistricting, as specified in the Colorado Constitution.
Concurring opinion (Coats) opens the door to constitutional remedy by the legislature, to redraw congressional boundaries in a future legislative session.

Concurs in judgement (Concurring opinion opens door to constitutional remedy by legislature)

(Severance tax increase)

The majority ruling in this case violated the Colorado Constitution (Art. X Section 20, TABOR) imposing a tax increase without the required approval by vote of the people.

See also: Colorado Supreme Court approves 40% tax increase

Voted No (upholding the Constitution)

(Plaintiff windfall)

The majority ruling in this case case created a windfall for personal injury trial lawyers (the “ambulance-chaser” set) and incidentally, some of the clients they represent, in collecting damage reimbursements above and beyond amounts actually paid.

See also: Colorado Supreme Court ruling produces plaintiff windfall

Voted No (upholding the Constitution)

LOBATO V. COLORADO (October 2009) (Judicial control of school funding)

The majority ruling in this case usurped the authority of the legislative branch to decide questions of policy (vs. law) in educational funding.

Voted No (upholding the Constitution)

(“Mill Levy Tax Freeze” property tax increase case)

The court upheld an unconstitutional property tax increase (”tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain“) and deprived Colorado citizens of their constitutional right to a vote on tax increases. The ruling also eliminated constitutional protections for existing tax credits and exemptions.

The Colorado Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that the tax increase violated the Colorado Constitution: District Court ruling by Judge Christina M. Habas
(30 May 2008)

Concurs in part and in the judgement (against the Constitution)

BARBER V. RITTER (November 2008) (“Fees” are not taxes case)

The majority ruled that fees collected for one specific purpose, but transferred later to other (general) purposes – like funds collected from a tax – are not in violation of the TABOR requirement to receive prior voter approval for “any tax policy change… resulting in a net revenue gain.”

Ergo, “fees” don’t count as taxes.

Concurred in judgement
(* 3 justices did not uphold the plaintiff’s challenge due to lack of ‘standing’)

TELLURIDE V. SAN MIGUEL VALLEY CORP. (June 2008) (“Telluride Land Grab” case)

The majority ruling in this case upheld the exercise of eminent domain by the town of Telluride over property OUTSIDE the town limits.  The upshot of the ruling is that ANY home rule entity (municipality) can exercise eminent domain ANYWHERE in the state.  Also, the ruling ignored a law passed by the Colorado Legislature expressly limiting extraterritorial condemnations and abusive ‘takings.’

Concurs (against the Constitution)

CEA V. RUTT (May 2008) (Illegal campaign finance coordination case)

Court ruled that a union could coordinate campaign activities with candidates, in violation of Colorado campaign finance law

Voted No (upholding Colorado campaign laws)

Initiative 55 (banning services to Illegals) case (June 2006)

The Colorado Supreme Court threw out the ballot initiative for violating the “single subject” rule, overturning the Title Board. Even the Denver Post (which vehemently opposed the initiative) decried the ruling.

Former Governor Dick Lamm panned the court as “Politicians in Black Robes“, saying “This is not justice; it is politics – of the worst kind.

Voted No (upholding the Constitution)

SALAZAR V. DAVIDSON (2003) (Congressional Re-Districting case)

The Colorado Supreme Court essentially declared itself part of the General Assembly in order to redraw congressional districts to its own liking – despite the clear words of the Colorado Constitution declaring this the exclusive power of the legislature (”General Assembly shall… reapportion districts”).  The court violated the clear language of the Constitution by declaring that its word was law – what I say goes, in a stunning power grab.  (See also: Supremes use semantic gymnastics)

Voted No (upholding the Constitution)

Other Views

State Commission on Judicial Performance “evaluations” (published in the “Blue Book”)
Coats’ “evaluation”

(Some viewers may wonder why we include the recommendations and rubber-stamp “reviews” of the State Commission on Judicial Performance, since their conclusions often vary from what our analysis indicates. Quite simply, we welcome the comparison – look at their “evaluations”, then compare them with our analysis. We think that discerning readers will agree: the “Blue Book” narratives lack substance and provide little or no useful information on which to base an informed decision).


Colorado Court of Appeals:

The following matrix lists the Colorado Court of Appeals judges appearing on the November ballot, with a representative sample of consequential cases decided by each judge.    Click the link (case name) for  the ruling’s full text; links to related commentary for additional information are included where relevant.

(Click the judge’s name for a link to their “official” government judicial performance evaluation)
CTBC’s summary rating for each Colorado Court of Appeals judge appears below their picture.
Ratings Code: X=strike against rule of law; O=upheld rule of law; M=Mixed





In 10CA1409, HENDERSON v. CITY OF FORT MORGAN, ruled that city council votes are NOT subject to Colorado open records laws in conducting official (public) business.

See also: Colorado appeals court upholds Fort Morgan city council’s secret ballots

In 08CA2689 and 09CA0384, COLORADO ETHICS WATCH v. SENATE MAJORITY FUND LLC, ruled that campaign finance limitations apply only to “express advocacy” activity and “express exhortations” to take action pro/contra candidates. In 09CA1713 CHURCHILL v. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER, ruled that the University of Colorado had quasi-judicial immunity against wrongful-firing claims by ex-CU Prof Ward Churchill

See also: Colorado Supreme Court rejects Ward Churchill appeal – University of Colorado not forced to re-instate to faculty



In 11CA1005 COLORADO MEDICAL SOCIETY v. HICKENLOOPER, ruled that Colorado law permits certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to administer anesthesia without supervision by a physician (ruling reduces burdensome licensing and regulatory requirements) In 08CA2689 and 09CA0384, COLORADO ETHICS WATCH v. SENATE MAJORITY FUND LLC, ruled that campaign finance limitations apply only to “express advocacy” activity and “express exhortations” to take action pro/contra candidates. In 06CA0733 Lobato v. State of Colorado, ruled to dismiss claim to force higher state spending on education as a non-justiciable political question.

See also: Colorado Supreme Court Usurps Legislature’s Role and Authority (again!), claims power to set ‘proper’ school funding amounts



In 09CA1713 CHURCHILL v. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER, ruled that the University of Colorado had quasi-judicial immunity against wrongful-firing claims by ex-CU Prof Ward Churchill

See also: Colorado Supreme Court rejects Ward Churchill appeal – University of Colorado not forced to re-instate to faculty

In 08CA1784 LAMBERT v. RITTER INAUGURAL COMMITTEE INC, ruled to overturn an earlier ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) ruling which had improperly dismissed a campaign finance complaint. In 04CA2169 PACIFIC LIFE ANNUITY COMPANY v. COLORADO DIVISION OF INSURANCE, ruled to reverse a trial court ruling that backed a Division of Insurance strong-arming a private insurer to pay more for services contrary to law and contract.



 In 11CA0892 CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS v. COLORADO ETHICS WATCH, ruled in favor of Colorado Ethics Watch against city motion to have campaign finance complaint reviewed by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In 10CA2291 COLORADO ETHICS WATCH v. CLEAR THE BENCH COLORADO, ruled in favor of Colorado Ethics Watch that judges are “candidates for election” in applying campaign finance rules (despite phrasing of vote as yes/no ballot question). In 11CA1041 GRAY v. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO HOSPITAL AUTHORITY, ruled that the University of Colorado Hospital Authority is immune from liability even for willful and wanton actions resulting in death under Colorado’s Government Immunity Act (GIA), § 24-10-101



In 09CA1230 STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS LLC v. REGENTS OF UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, voted to overturn the CU Gun Ban (upholding Colorado state statute for concealed carry vs. University of Colorado)

Commentary/News: Colorado Supreme Court upholds Colorado Court of Appeals rejection of CU Gun Ban

In 07CA1151 INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE v. COFFMAN, ruled to uphold constitutionality of campaign finance law reporting and  disclosure requirements, restricting political free speech. In 04CA0078 DALEY v. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER, ruled that the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center was entitled to immunity from claims of of invasion of privacy, extreme and outrageous conduct, and civil theft for circulating private medical records w/o authorization under Colorado’s Governmental Immunity Act (GIA), § 24-10-101



In 09CA0132 COLORADO MINING ASSOCIATION LLC LLC LLC v. HUBER, ruled to strike down a severance tax increase as a violation of the Colorado Constitution,
Art. X Section 20 (TABOR)

See also: Colorado Supreme Court prepares additional assault on taxpayer rights

In 09CA1396 J.S. v. Chambers, reversed district court ruling appointing special prosecutor, upholding prosecutorial discretion in pursuing criminal charges in highly politicized case.

In 06CA0733 Lobato v. State of Colorado, ruled to dismiss claim to force higher state spending on education as a non-justiciable political question (properly role of the legislature, not courts).

See also: Colorado Supreme Court Usurps Legislature’s Role and Authority (again!), claims power to set ‘proper’ school funding amounts

For those interested in reviewing the full listing of Colorado Court of Appeals rulings, the FindLaw website (with searchable database of court rulings) is a valuable resource.

District/County Judges:

Since District/County judges rule on a much larger number of cases, many (if not most) of which do not result in published opinions – and as there are a great deal more of them appearing on the ballot – the methodology employed by Clear The Bench Colorado in reviewing judicial performance at this level relies primarily upon inputs from concerned citizens and knowledgeable parties (including attorneys, court-watchers, and sources in law enforcement) and lists specific cases only by exception.

Our Know Your Judge: Citizen Input on District/County Judges 2012 page lists comments on each judge organized by judicial district.

Anyone wishing to comment on any of the judges on this year’s ballot are welcome to submit comments and responsible, documented articles of reasonable length (please, no rants, slams, or diatribes) to our Know Your Judge: Citizen Input page, or our Sound Off! page.

Comments on any of the judicial performance evaluations are welcome, below.

79 Responses to Evaluations 2012

  • fred warner says:

    GREAT content. day-to-day we don’t keep up with judge activites…only what impacts us personally. THANKS!

  • Anita says:

    Thank you. This is as helpful to Progressives, like myself, as it is to conservatives. Your work advances democracy by providing needed information.

  • CTBC Director says:

    Anita, thanks –
    your comment means a lot.
    Although we may disagree on policy and politics, we share a view that voters deserve better information on which to base their decisions.
    Please “share” this information resource widely – much obliged!

  • Jean Gaspari says:

    Thanks for the info. This is the first time I have voted with good information helping me to make a decision re a vote. Thank you for putting together the info.

  • Brian says:

    Great site! It is exactly what the people need to keep informed and active. I have already donated to the site- money well spent!

  • JEFF REED says:

    GREAT JOB. THANK YOU. GREAT PATRIOTS FOR THIS! Also need more info on district judges and party affilitation.

  • Linda Barr says:

    Thank you so much for this invaluable information. It has made my voting experience much more powerful!

  • Walt Kailey says:

    Thank you so much! This information is exactly what I needed to help hold these judges accountable to the constitution and the law. I am tired of being ruled by arrogant tyrants in black robes who legislate from the bench and trample on the constitution and the rule of law. This website is a godsend.

  • Andrew says:

    First time voting by mail in ballot and having this info allowed me to make an informed decision for the first time in 16 years of voting. Thanks!

  • Dagny says:

    I was researching the judges on the ballot (oh no! An informed voter!!!) and thankfully came across this site. THANK YOU!!!!

    The only thing I wish is that we had more information on judges at the district & county levels. Maybe if this site was more well known, we’d have more feedback on the judges to help us when we vote.

  • Mary Beth Stenzel says:

    Thank you so much for the accounting of their actual record. We study and appreciate the statistics. Go for less government and better choices!

  • tk - larimer county says:

    This is a remarkable amount of work. I’m a registered Independent and found your research very helpful while early voting.

  • Troy Clark says:

    A wonderful resource – thank you. Increasingly we see the judicial branch overstepping their constitutional bounds, citizens need this information to help hold judges accountable.

  • Monica L. Sheeon says:

    I was reviewing all the Judges to vote appropriately, first year I have voted in a long time, when it came to Judge Christopher Munch, I found no information at all, anywhere, I googled, went through the pages here and nothing. Personally, I have been in his courtroom on the positive and on the negative end, and I have to say, he has to have been the fairest and most sincere Judge I have dealt with. I was just wondering why I can’t find any info on this person. Thank you.

  • christine says:

    Thanks – this was very helpful! I appreciated the ability to review key decisions and the organization of this content.

  • Adam Gardner says:

    I think your evaluation of Judge Booras in Henderson v. Fort Morgan is incorrect. This is a very narrow ruling that states that (a) because all deliberation and voting procedure was held in public, and (b) because the COML does not call for a specific method of casting votes, that the Council did not violate the law. This ruling was to UPHOLD the rule of law.

    The appropriate remedy for Henderson in this case was to campaign against those members who chose to allow the anonymous ballot method, rather than sue in court to try to get their way. Henderson could also have campaigned (and petitioned) for a change to the home rule charter in Fort Morgan forbidding anonymous ballots.

  • Isaiah says:

    Thank you for taking the time to put this website together so I could get an informed about how judges ruled in cases. This has been tremendously helpful in deciding which judges should be kept and canned with my voting ballot this year. Keep up the good work.

  • CTBC Director says:

    that’s why we post the link to the decision – so people can make up their own minds.
    We don’t expect that everyone will agree with our assessment, but at least we can agree on the underlying facts.
    Thank you for your analysis of the Fort Morgan ruling; CTBC also welcomes guest commentary on cases with broad public policy impact, and would be willing to consider any submissions of reasonable length (about 600-700 words) and relevant content.

  • Rodney Platts says:

    currently in Abuse neglect case, no charges, have motion from Judge stating they are waiting for another court to take it over, Judge hand written sloppily that even tho I qualify for court appointed attorney he refuses to give me one. This case started in Nov 2012 and in recess judge says he can delay this forever. Is this unethical or what?

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