Location: HCR 0112
BILL SUMMARY for HB17-1303
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
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02:54 PM -- HB17-1303
Representative Lee and Representative Wist, co-prime sponsors, presented House Bill 17-1303, concerning the judicial performance evaluation system. Representative Wist explained the effect of the bill and discussed its need. Representative Lee provided additional input on the bill and the stakeholder process that led to its development. He also discussed the make-up of the State Commission on Judicial Performance under the bill, and its charge.
03:05 PM -- Judge Carlos Samour and Judge David Prince, judges from the Eighteenth and Fourth Judicial Districts respectively and representing the Judicial Branch, testified on the bill from a neutral perspective. Judge Samour related his impressions of the judicial performance commission system. Judge Prince discussed the quality of this system, and the potential for partisanship to take hold in the system as a result of the bill.
Discussion ensued regarding the evaluation of senior judges, and the language contained in judge evaluation forms. Discussion followed regarding the appointment process to the commission, and the use of former judges as evaluators.
Discussion returned to the evaluation of senior judges, including courtroom observation.
Discussion ensued regarding the impact of HB 17-1303 on the Judicial Department rulemaking process, and the process by which complaints are lodged against members of judicial performance commissions.
Discussion returned to the impact of HB 17-1303 on judicial rulemaking. Judge Samour made further comments on the evaluation of senior judges. Discussion ensued regarding the appointment of former judges to the judicial performance commissions.
The committee discussed the recommendations that result from the judicial performance process.
04:09 PM -- Mr. Robin Austin, representing FACEUS, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Austin discussed the lack of transparency in the judge evaluation process, and the process by which unethical conduct in the Judicial Branch is addressed. He responded to committee questions concerning judicial performance and judicial ethics.
Mr. Austin continued to responded to committee questions concerning his position on the bill, and ways to improve the judicial performance evaluation process.
04:23 PM -- Ms. Heather Hanneman, representing the Judicial Performance Commission (commission), testified in support of the bill. Mr. Kent Wagner, representing the commission, came to the table to make himself available for technical questions. Ms. Hanneman discussed the effectiveness of the commission's work. She also provided suggestions for improving the judicial evaluation process. Ms. Hanneman responded to committee questions concerning her suggestions for improving the commission's work and complaints against commissioners.
Mr. Wagner stated that he had not received complaints about the conduct of commissioners, and discussed the nature of complaints that have been received about the evaluation process. He also responded to a question concerning specific provisions of the bill concerning standards used by the commission. In response to a question, Mr. Wagner discussed performance standards and criteria used by other states. Ms. Hanneman, Mr. Wagner, and the committee continued to discuss standards required by the bill.
Mr. Wagner responded to questions regarding the surveys conducted during the judicial evaluation process.
Ms. Hanneman responded to questions regarding the inclusion of senior judges in the evaluation process under HB 17-1303. Discussion returned to the use of former judges in the evaluation process.
05:00 PM -- Mr. Chris Forsyth, representing the Judicial Integrity Project, testified in opposition to HB 17-1303. He explained why the bill represents a step backwards for judicial commissions and the judge performance evaluation process, noting some transparency, conflict-of-interest, and partisanship issues.
05:03 PM -- Ms. Stacy Carpenter, representing the Colorado Bar Association, testified on the bill from a neutral perspective. Ms. Carpenter noted some potential amendments to the bill that would improve the legislation. Ms. Carpenter responded to questions regarding the choices available to voters in evaluating sitting judges, and the reasons why judges that receive "do not retain" recommendations are nonetheless retained. Mr. Wagner returned to respond to a question regarding the rate at which those who receive a "do not retain" recommendation are retained.
05:21 PM -- Ms. Luanne Fleming, representing FACEUS, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Fleming noted some transparency and information issues with the bill, and discussed issues experienced by her families and others as the result of the actions of a particular judge. Ms. Fleming responded to questions regarding the background checks that a judge must undergo.
05:25 PM -- Ms. Marilyn Chappell, representing the Colorado Judicial Institute, testified on the bill. Ms Chappell discussed the efficacy of the state's judicial performance evaluation process.
05:28 PM -- Mr. Andrew Toft, representing the Colorado Bar Association, testified on the bill.
05:30 PM -- Mr. Peter Coulter, representing Transparent Courts, testified in opposition to HB 17-1303. Mr. Coulter discussed some flaws in the judge survey process, and suggested a remedy. He also addressed the issue of evaluating senior judges.
HB 17-1303 was laid over. The committee recessed.