Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 1992 Full List Judge Buss

Twenty-First Judicial District - District Judge

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Honorable Charles A. Buss

Retention year: 1992
Recommendation: No Opinion

Judge Buss is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1968. He was engaged in private practice for five years and served as an attorney in Pueblo County and the Colorado Rural Legal Services. Judge Buss has been a Mesa County District Judge since September of 1977. Judge Buss presides over criminal, juvenile, mental health, probate, domestic and civil cases.

In addition to reviewing evaluations and comments from jurors, law enforcement, and courthouse personnel and from attorneys who have practiced before Judge Buss, members of the Commission reviewed previous evaluations, observed Judge Buss in court and held three meetings with Judge Buss. This report attempts to summarize the totality of the information obtained.

Evaluations received from 26 jurors were very positive and recommended Judge Buss be retained in office

Only nine law enforcement personnel responded to the survey. Some responses state Judge Buss treats parties equally, maintains control of the courtroom, works diligently and issues prompt rulings. However, other responses stated Judge Buss’ written and oral rulings are not clear, his courtroom demeanor is inappropriate for a judge; he is discourteous and appears bored with court proceedings. 44% of law enforcement who responded to the survey recommended Judge Buss be retained. 33% recommended he not be retained and 23% had no opinion.

Fourteen courthouse personnel (including social services, probation and court clerks) responded to the survey. These responses rated Judge Buss highly in maintaining courtroom control, issuing prompt rulings and using relevant factors in sentencing. However, a majority of the responses describe Judge Buss as arrogant, rude to attorneys, litigants and court personnel, and state his demeanor on the bench is inappropriate. Some of the responses express a general concern about Judge Buss’ work habits, including lack of punctuality and preparation, and that he is away from the office way too much. 64% of the courthouse personnel who responded to the survey recommended Judge Buss not be retained in office. 

Approximately 59 attorneys who practice before Judge Buss responded to the survey. Some responses criticize him for his moodiness, unpredictable opinions, inappropriate and unpredictable behavior on the bench and general lack of interpersonal relationship skills. Some allege he dwells on obscure legal or procedural issues in an attempt to berate, intimidate and embarrass attorneys. A majority of the responses report he does not display a sense of justice, that his courtroom demeanor is inappropriate, that he is discourteous, lacks compassion and does not work diligently. The attorneys rate him highly on his intellect and knowledge of procedure and evidence issues, that he maintains control of the courtroom and the he sentences fairly. Fifty-eight percent of the attorneys responding to the survey recommended that Judge Buss not be retained, 36% recommended retention and 6% had no opinion.

Judge Buss, in response to the criticisms about his courtroom demeanor, promised to take immediate steps to improve in this area. He intends to measure his words with extreme care, avoid inappropriate comments and show more restraint and judgment in the manner in which he addresses attorneys and litigants. He also promised to develop and implement a self-improvement plan to address the asserted deficiencies in his work performance.

The Commission is concerned about the low number of responses to the surveys and believes that significant changes must be made in the evaluation process to make the process more reliable. There does not appear to be a strong consensus in favor of retention or opposed to retention. From a total of 108 survey responses, 54 recommended retention, 46 recommended no retention and 8 had no opinion.

Because of the mixed responses from the survey and the inability of the Commission to obtain additional data that was conclusive, the 21st Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends No Opinion on the retention of Judge Charles A. Buss. The conclusion was not unanimous.