Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2008 Full List Judge Archuleta

First Judicial District - Jefferson County Judge

2008 Retention Survey Report

Honorable Judy Archuleta

Retention year: 2008
Recommendation: Do Not Retain

The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Judy Archuleta NOT BE RETAINED, with one Commissioner recused.

Background: Judge Archuleta was appointed to the Jefferson County Court in November, 2000.  Before her appointment to the Court, Judge Archuleta served as a Deputy District Attorney for the First Judicial District.  She has not participated in any service to the legal profession and the public.

Strengths: Judge Archuleta is well versed in the law, intelligent, controls her courtroom and says she enjoys her job.

Weaknesses: Unfortunately, her weaknesses far outweigh her strengths and we believe are damaging to the public’s trust in the judicial system as a whole.  Over 50 responses to surveys, including both attorneys and non-attorneys were extremely critical.  Words similar to poor people skills, bad demeanor, impatient, not friendly, rude, unsympathetic, belittling and harsh were used more than once in describing her.  Multiple responders, including both attorneys and non-attorneys, stated that she had no strengths.  There were concerns expressed regarding Judge Archuleta’s interactions with victims, particularly domestic violence victims, and her perceived impatience with them.  The attorney and non-attorney survey results showed that Judge Archuleta was graded overall and in all categories significantly below the average for all judges in the state.  She was rated especially low in demeanor categories.

Judge Archuleta seemed unaware in her interview of the seriousness of the complaints against her.  Only 44% of attorneys and 64% of non-attorneys who responded recommended her retention, which percentages were 40% and 20% below the average for judges in Colorado.  (Judge Archuleta’s different retention percentage below for non-attorneys does not include those who had no opinion about her retention.)  Her overall ratings have not significantly improved since her review four years ago when she had similar issues.  While Judge Archuleta argues that defense attorneys were “openly hostile” to her, only one-third of the attorneys who responded were defense attorneys.  Twice as many defense attorneys answered her survey in her 2004 evaluation.  Members of law enforcement answered in greater numbers in 2008.

The Commission wants to make clear that it did not consider information, obviously from unhappy defense attorneys, about her sentencing.  Her sentencing is within guidelines set by the legislature.  Judge Archuleta’s statement below concerning the positive comments from non-attorneys ignores that fact that a number of attorneys and non-attorneys had both positive and negative things to say about her.   As the survey results point out, a judge can be seen by a single respondent as in control of her courtroom and knowledgeable of the law but also rude, biased and lacking compassion; be organized and fair but condescending; be diligent but treat a jury badly; be patient but lose her composure.  To “cherry-pick” only the good things, as Judge Archuleta does below, is to ignore substantial evidence before the Commission.  It was by weighing all the factors, including those positive to Judge Archuleta, that the Commission came to its decision.

Recommendation: Unfortunately, we strongly recommend that Judge Archuleta NOT BE RETAINED.  She has six years experience and her performance on the bench has not significantly improved.

Judge Judy L. Archuleta’s Response: I am rated highly for my judicial skills, knowledge of the law, efficient case management. I am known as a judge that imposes jail for individuals convicted of repeat drunk driving offenses. These offenders and the attorneys that defend them purposefully rate my service poorly. This small group is not unbiased and would like me not retained solely because of my sentencing philosophy. The commission opinion reflects the minority. The majority of all others appearing before me, litigants, jurors, victims rated my strengths as “fair”, “polite”, “compassionate”, “patient”, an “excellent judge”. This MAJORITY (78%), RECOMMENDS THAT I BE RETAINED.