Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2002 Full List Judge Callahan

Thirteenth Judicial District - Yuma County Judge


Reports:
2002 Retention Survey Report

Honorable Thomas J. Callahan

Retention year: 2002
Recommendation: Retain

The Thirteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Thomas J. Callahan BE RETAINED.

Judge Callahan was appointed to the County Court bench on January 3, 1992. He presides over civil, traffic and misdemeanor cases together with some District Court matters as a Magistrate. Judge Callahan is a long-time resident of Yuma County and had been an attorney in private practice prior to his appointment to the bench. As a part-time County Judge, he still maintains an active private practice in Wray, Colorado.

Surveys reveal that courthouse personnel, attorneys, law enforcement officials, litigants, victims and jurors questioned rated Judge Callahan’s performance above average to average overall. Judge Callahan received high marks, particularly from attorneys, for his efficiency, use of court time and docket management. This is so in spite of a relative lack of resources available to the court system in Yuma County.

Nevertheless, Judge Callahan received more than average criticism from non-attorneys for perceived racial bias and impatience. This perception of racial bias may be caused by the high number of undocumented defendants who appear before him, often times as repeat offenders, on the charges of driving without a valid driver’s license, no auto insurance and alcohol related driving offenses. Because these defendants are not legally in the United States, they pose unique and difficult problems at the bonding and sentencing levels. As a result, 43% of non-attorneys surveyed favored retention of Judge Callahan, 33% did not and 23% expressed no opinion. Seventy-four percent of the non-attorneys surveyed indicated that he maintained an above average to average professional demeanor in the courtroom.

One hundred percent of the attorneys surveyed rated Judge Callahan at the top to above-average for professional demeanor compared to 83% for all county judges in Colorado. It was urged that Judge Callahan attempt to treat litigants more diplomatically. Eighty-six percent of attorneys surveyed recommended retention.

At his interview with the Commission, Judge Callahan pointed out that his docket features a number of individuals who do not seem to share the values of society as a whole and many defendants who do not seem to respond appropriately to authority. This causes conflict with many parties on his criminal docket, as he may be perceived as seeming to lack patience with a certain number of these individuals. Judge Callahan has genuine concern for the safety of all citizens in Yuma County, and as a result he is tough on repeat alcohol offenders.