Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 1992 Full List Judge Goldsmith

Seventh Judicial District - District Judge

Honorable Thomas A. Goldsmith

Retention year: 1992
Recommendation: Do Not Retain

The Commission concludes that Judge Thomas A. Goldsmith’s performance during his eight year tenure has been disruptive to the judicial process in the Seventh Judicial District.

Prior to the 1986 retention election, a poll conducted by the Seventh Judicial District Bar Association also gave Judge Goldsmith a low rating and recommended he not be retained. Gunnison County voters heeded the recommendation by a narrow margin but Judge Goldsmith was retained by a majority of voters in the six-county district.

Judge Goldsmith is highly controversial, whether it be a colleague with his peers, with attorneys, law enforcement or government workers. While Judge Goldsmith would explain the controversy as a consequence of his commitment to change, the Commission believes that it is more a consequence of his desire to control. He appears to have alienated a large number of people he contacts in his work. Primarily because of the overwhelming lack of support among those he works with, the negative impact upon those who appear before him, and his lack of interest in acknowledging the need for changes in his performance, the Commission believes that it would not be in the interest of citizens in the Seventh Judicial District to retain Judge Goldsmith.

A considerable number of respondents – including law enforcement officers, courthouse personnel, courthouse staff, citizens and attorneys –  recommended that Judge Goldsmith not be retained. The respondents were divided on the issue of his legal ability; some found him to lack the necessary knowledge of substantive and procedural law, while others found him bright and innovative. Some said that he maintains courtroom control and issues prompt rulings and decisions, but others complained that he was not punctual. However, the respondents decidedly agreed that Judge Goldsmith is arrogant and that his rulings are inconsistent. Many also said that he was demeaning, discourteous, egotistical and arbitrary.

The purpose of the questionnaires was to discover the attitudes of the respondents towards judges. The questionnaires were not intended to be scientifically valid surveys and Commission did not treat them as such. However, from the questionnaire responses, the Commission received messages and comments that cannot be ignored. It is obvious that a large segment of the people who have come in contact with Judge Goldsmith in the course of his tenure of office are dissatisfied with his performance and also having to work with and for him. Similar indications were almost entirely lacking in comments about the other three judges up for retention. While recognizing that his philosophical goals may be laudable, the Commission sees his style to be unnecessarily disruptive to the judicial process.

During the interviews with the Commission, Judge Goldsmith was articulate and generally responsive to the Commission’s questions. He appears to have a high regard for the law and said he is personally dedicated to high standards of professional performance.

In response to the large number of people who recommended that he not be retained, he attempted to defend his desire for retention by suggesting that, because of his style, the Commission should have expected the negative responses, and that there were possible supporters who did not respond. With respect to the charges of arrogance, he explained that many may misinterpret his attitude, but that he could improve in this area. He did not think his rulings were inconsistent, but that some may perceived them as such because of his philosophy is to render individualized decisions in each case. He state that most of the criticisms were dated, and that he has mellowed in recent years. He gave the impression that he feels that he is one of the few judges doing his job properly. Overall, he was not particularly open to suggestions of improvement in his performance.
He is admittedly a perfectionist and feels it is his mission to elevate the general level of competence of attorneys. Judge Goldsmith’s apparent disdain for lawyers is most troubling. Attorneys who appear in front of him are entitled to the presumption of competence and professionalism, and yet the opposite attitude is conveyed.

As a result of the interviews, the Commission felt that Judge Goldsmith lacks the qualities of consistency and collegiality that are necessary if a person is to be a good judge and if the judicial system is to function smoothly and properly. He defends himself as an agent of change, but the Commission feels that changes in the judiciary can be made in a more productive and less disruptive manner.

The Colorado Judicial Performance statute allows a judge to request a second meeting before the District Commission. Judge Goldsmith requested the opportunity to appear again; that request was granted. At that time, the Judge provided a number of supportive letters from Gunnison County residents.

Thomas Goldsmith has been a District Court Judge in the Seventh Judicial District since his appointment in 1984. He sits chiefly in Gunnison, but also travels to Montrose and Telluride. He also serves in Delta as need arises. Before becoming a district judge, he served as the San Miguel County Judge, Telluride Municipal Judge, and San Miguel County Attorney.

Judge Goldsmith received his law degree from the University of Florida in 1966 and passed the bar in that state the same year. Subsequently, he passed the California bar in 1973 and the Colorado bar in 1976. In 1989, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Judicial Studies and his thesis on plea bargaining was published in the University of Denver Law Journal.  He served as a Legal Services lawyer and has engaged in private practice of law. His community involvement includes teaching legal education courses at Western State College and some public school visits. He also serves on the Community Corrections Board, on which all legal topics written by or co-authored by Judge Goldsmith have been published in the Colorado Lawyer, a monthly publication of the Colorado Bar Association.

The 7th Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Thomas A. Goldsmith Not be Retained.