Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2000 Full List Judge Patterson

Second Judicial District - Denver County Judge

Honorable Robert L. Patterson

Retention year: 2000
Recommendation: Retain

The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Robert L. ("Beau") Patterson BE RETAINED.

Judge Patterson was appointed to the Denver County Court bench in August 1985. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Patterson practiced in the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver for two years and then was a Deputy Public Defender and later a Division Head in the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, for a total of four years. He also practiced in the Federal Public Defender's Office in Seattle, Washington for one year and served as an Assistant Colorado Attorney General for four years. Judge Patterson received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1974. For the last three years, Judge Patterson has served as the presiding judge of the Denver County Court. In addition to his administrative duties as presiding judge, Judge Patterson hears all preliminary hearings in adult murder cases which are filed in Denver County. During his fifteen years on the bench, he has also served in most of the divisions of the County Court, including traffic court; arraignments, advisements and General Sessions trials for municipal ordinance violations; municipal and state criminal court; and juvenile court. Judge Patterson plans to return to the bench full-time next year and will not seek another term as presiding judge.

The Commission reviewed written evaluations of Judge Patterson from attorneys and non-attorneys, including written verbatim comments attached to the evaluation questionnaires. The Commission considered supplemental information and materials supplied by Judge Patterson regarding his activities and accomplishments as the presiding judge of the Denver County Court and in the community. The Commission also considered a written self-evaluation completed by Judge Patterson and conducted a personal interview with Judge Patterson.

As the presiding judge, Judge Patterson has a number of duties and responsibilities which are mandated by city charter. These include sitting as an ex officio member of other chartered commissions for Denver County and appointing and overseeing personnel and administrative matters related to the 275 employees of the Denver County Court. Judge Patterson also chairs the Justice Center Planning Committee, which is engaged in initiating a design and site selection process for a new Denver County jail. Judge Patterson has also been involved in the opening of three satellite traffic courts in Denver neighborhoods and the first-of-its-kind Community Court, which is located in the Five Points neighborhood. He teaches a class several times a year at Manual High School and mentors a class at Philipps Elementary School. Judge Patterson and his wife were awarded the American Association of University Women Denver Branch Dynamic Duo Award in 1999 for their community service activities in Denver. Judge Patterson believes it is extremely important for judges to have community involvement because the public's confidence in the judiciary is dependent upon judges' visibility and contact with the citizenry. Judge Patterson's judicial philosophy includes deciding each case fairly and impartially based on his knowledge of the law and the facts; conducting himself in a manner which instills public confidence in the judiciary; giving each party a fair opportunity to present his or her case; and treating people as he likes to be treated. For recreation, Judge Patterson enjoys playing golf, coaching soccer and spending time with his grandchildren.

Judge Patterson received high ratings from both attorneys and non-attorneys in many categories, particularly in the areas of being courteous toward parties and witnesses; treating all parties equally; maintaining a professional demeanor in the courtroom; ruling on motions in a timely manner; and performing with diligence, efficiency and minimal delay.

Judge Patterson received somewhat lower ratings in some categories, including being courteous toward attorneys and pro se parties; being fair and impartial toward both sides; providing written and verbal communications and explaining court procedures in a manner which is clear, thorough and well-reasoned; listening patiently to all testimony and arguments before ruling; being prepared for all court matters; and making the correct decision based upon the law and the facts. Judge Patterson is very concerned about his lower ratings in these areas and believes that these responses demonstrate a need for him to improve his communication skills and how he is perceived when performing on the bench. Accordingly, Judge Patterson has advised the Commission that he has retained the services of a communications expert to assist him in improving in these areas. The Commission believes that this will be an important step toward improving certain aspects of Judge Patterson's performance and appreciates his willingness to undertake this work.

Of the attorneys responding to the questionnaire, 45% recommended that Judge Patterson be retained in office, 27% recommended that he not be retained, and 27% had no opinion. Because of the limited number of cases handled by Judge Patterson due to his administrative duties as presiding judge, a very few number of attorneys, 18, were mailed questionnaires. Of that limited number, only 11 attorneys responded. Because the number of respondents was so low, the Commission was unable to make any meaningful statistical extrapolation from the attorney ratings and, consequently, reviewed supplemental materials regarding Judge Patterson's performance. Of the non-attorneys responding to the questionnaire, 74% recommended retention, 19% recommended non-retention, and 6% had no opinion.