Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 2012 Full List Judge Spear

Eighteenth Judicial District - District Judge


Reports:
2012 Retention Survey Report
2011 Interim Survey Report
2009 Interim Survey Report

Honorable Michael J. Spear

Retention year: 2012
Recommendation: Retain

The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance by unanimous vote recommends that Judge Michael J. Spear BE RETAINED.

Judge Spear received his undergraduate degree in International Studies and German from the University of Colorado in 1982.  In 1990, he received his law degree from the University of Denver.  He was a law clerk for the Honorable Michael J. Watanabe for two years.  He then worked for Robert R. Gallagher and James J. Peters in the Eighteenth Judicial District Attorneys Office. Prior to his appointment to the bench he worked as a trial attorney for a Denver firm.  Judge Spear was appointed to the Eighteenth Judicial District Court bench in February of 2003.  Judge Spear has served on the bench for 9 years.  Currently, Judge Spear is hearing a docket of 35% civil, 63% criminal, and 2% domestic relations.

Judge Spear serves on the District Court bench in Arapahoe County where he is one of the most respected judges.  He is known to be fair and well organized.  He runs a highly efficient docket under frequently extremely difficult and demanding conditions.  He is known for his care in explaining the legal system in understandable terms to the many people who appear before him. However, Judge Spear scored lower than the statewide average of all district judges who are up for retention this year in every almost category in the attorney surveys.  Most troubling to the Commission are his low scores from attorneys in the category of overall demeanor, including whether the judge treats participants with respect and whether he conducts his courtroom in a neutral manner.  The Commission conducted extensive research in making this recommendation, including a review of the surveys conducted on the judge, interviews with individuals involved in the courtroom, personal observations in the courtroom, and the judge's self-evaluation. 

Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 64% recommended to retain, 31% not to retain, and 5% were undecided or didn’t have enough information to make a recommendation. Of those expressing an opinion to retain or not to retain, 67% recommended to retain and 33% not to retain.  Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 96% recommended to retain, 2% not to retain, and 2% were undecided or didn’t have enough information to make a recommendation. Of those expressing an opinion to retain or not to retain, 98% recommended to retain and 2% not to retain.  Judge Spear’s lower level of confidence in performance stems largely from concerns about his demeanor on the bench. The Commission has discussed these issues with the judge and the judge has agreed to undertake an improvement plan to address these issues. The Commission as a whole has concluded that Judge Spear is a good judge and, with attention to the areas of concern addressed above, will continue to serve the Eighteenth Judicial District with a high level of performance.