Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2008 Full List Judge Whalen

Twentieth Judicial District - District Judge

2008 Retention Survey Report

Honorable M. Gwyneth Whalen

Retention year: 2008
Recommendation: Retain

The Twentieth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends that Judge M. Gwyneth Whalen BE RETAINED.

Background: Appointed to the Boulder District Court in October 2006, Judge Whalen had previously been an assistant county attorney in Boulder where she specialized in child protection.  More recently she was in private practice with a focus on civil litigation in complex cases.  Judge Whalen received her law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1990.  Judge Whalen’s docket of cases in Boulder District Court primarily includes civil litigation and domestic relations with a few criminal law cases.
Evaluation:  The recommendation to retain Judge Whalen is based upon a self evaluation questionnaire given to the judge, three of her written opinions, a public hearing, a personal interview and courtroom observations by Commission members, and survey results from litigants, court staff, jurors, attorneys and others who have knowledge of her performance as a judge. Judge Whalen is committed to being a strong and competent district court judge.  She wants to strike the proper balance between running an orderly court room to efficiently process cases while making sure that all participants believe that they were heard and treated fairly.  After 18 months on the bench, she endeavors to manage her large case load effectively and efficiently and to learn new areas of substantive law such as domestic relations.  She has made good progress as she has gained experience.

Survey results show significant differences between non-attorneys and attorneys.  Non-attorneys ranked Judge Whalen either comparable or higher than other district court judges in application and knowledge of the law, demeanor, communication, and diligence.   Attorneys, however, found that she performed significantly lower in these same areas with particularly weaker scores in application and knowledge of the law and overall demeanor.   Several surveys also indicated a perception of arrogance and lack of courtesy toward attorneys.  Although Judge Whalen acknowledged that her demeanor may, on occasion, be unintentionally intimidating, she was surprised that some attorneys perceived her this way.  To Judge Whalen’s credit, upon learning of the survey results, she acknowledged that she may have a weakness in this area and has already proactively sought assistance and feedback from her judicial colleagues.  She is striving to take concrete steps to improve in the areas that have been identified by these attorney survey results. 

Recommendations: Survey results showed weak attorney support for retaining Judge Whalen.  However, 69% of attorneys who expressed a preference supported retention. Non-attorneys, on the other hand, showed strong support for retention.  Among non-attorneys expressing a preference, 90% advocated for retaining Judge Whalen.