by Pam Zubeck
The judicial appointment and retention process in Colorado is one of the best merit based systems in the country, and it has been around for 50 years. Many states have direct elections of judges, opening the judicial system to all the corruption and influence of big money in politics we see in legislative, congressional and presidential elections. In these states judicial decisions can essentially be bought and sold.To access those reports, go to the link provided above.
Colorado county, district and appellate judges are appointed by the Governor based on bi-partisan nominating commissions, which use a merit based process to recommend three names for each open judgeship, from which the Governor makes an appointment. Periodically, judges are required to stand for retention elections. Voters decide whether each judge should stay on the bench or be removed.
To help Colorado voters make informed decisions, the state Judicial Performance Commission and local JPCs in every judicial district, conduct a thorough evaluation process of judges facing retention elections. This evaluation involves extensive surveying of attorneys, jurors, court staff, other judges, civil litigants and others who can provide direct input on a judge's performance; court room observations; review of authored opinions; an interview by the JPC of each judge and other input from the public about a judge’s performance.
A report is then generated for each retention judge and provided to voters online by the Colorado Judicial Performance Commission and the Colorado Legislative Council's "Blue Book" which is mailed to voters and available online. This report identifies each judge's strengths and weaknesses and makes a recommendation to voters to either retain (keep a judge on the bench) or not retain that judge so Colorado voters have direct, informed decision making authority on our judges.