Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2008 Full List Judge Hawthorne

Colorado Court of Appeals

2008 Retention Survey Report
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Honorable Robert D. Hawthorne

Retention year: 2008
Recommendation: Retain

The State Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Robert D. Hawthorne BE RETAINED.

Judge Hawthorne was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2004.  He graduated from Louisiana State University and the University of  Missouri School of Law, where he was a Director for the Legal Aid Program.  He served in the U.S. Army Reserves, as President of the Limon Rotary Club, and as Commissioner for District 11 , Colorado Department of Transportation.

Prior to his appointment to the Court, Judge Hawthorne was in private practice for 30 years in Limon and Denver, as well as Springfield, Missouri .  He has also been an Assistant District Attorney and Assistant General Counsel to the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks.

Attorneys who responded to survey questions rated Judge Hawthorne as comparable to other appellate judges in most respects, and slightly below average for: (1) being prepared for oral argument, and (2) issuing opinions in a timely manner.  Attorney comments were split, with some praising Judge Hawthorne’s thoroughness and professionalism, while some criticized the factual basis and legal reasoning of his opinions.  Judges who responded to survey questions rated him as comparable to other appellate judges in all respects.

The Commission reviewed a number of opinions written by Judge Hawthorne. The Commission found that attorneys’ comments critical of his writing were, in various instances, substantiated.  His work product sometimes lacked clarity and organization, and his reasoning was at times difficult to follow.  The Commission also noted what appeared to be reaching for specific results.

While in his meetings with the Commission, Judge Hawthorne did not initially acknowledge any significant areas for improvement, he subsequently agreed to a detailed improvement plan.  On balance, a majority of the commissioners do not believe that Judge Hawthorne’s opinion writing meets the standards expected of appellate judges, but do believe he is committed to making improvements.  Overall, 91% of attorneys surveyed and 98% of judges surveyed supported Judge Hawthorne’s retention, with 74% of attorneys and 81% of judges strongly recommending that he be retained in office.