On Friday, May 19, 2023, the Denver Post reported that a complaint was brought against Arapahoe County 18th Judicial District Court Judge Peter Michaelson after he allegedly threatened to throw an attorney in jail. 

Attorney Mark Cohen filed a complaint against Judge Michaelson after the latter allegedly told him to bring a toothbrush to court so that he’d be more comfortable in jail. The complainant mentioned that the judge’s comment was part of a larger pattern of rude and unprofessional behavior during a three-day civil trial that happened in February.

According to the complaint, Judge Michaelson’s clerk apologized to the attorneys for the judge’s behavior after the judge left the bench that day.

Attorney Cohen stated, “(Michaelson) would claim to want to hear us offer our theories on our claims and defenses, but if we began to say anything he disagreed with, he would threaten to jail us. Thus we were unable to make a proper record…… Like most lawyers, I have won some and I have lost some. But I have never experienced anything like this. The people of Colorado deserve better.”

Despite the submission of the complaint, it remains unclear whether the Commission on Judicial Discipline already initiated an investigation into the allegations against Judge Michaelson. The commission often dismisses complaints without investigation due to procedural factors, such as jurisdictional limitations or insufficient evidence. Chris Gregory, the executive director of the commission, declined to provide comment, citing the rules of confidentiality.

On the other hand, Judge Michaelson said that the Commission on Judicial Discipline has not notified him about the filing of the complaint against him, stating, “I have not been notified that a complaint has been filed, have had no contact with the Commission on Judicial Discipline, and can’t respond more than to refer you to the complete record from pleadings to trial in this case.”

Moreover, Judge Michaelson already announced to the Colorado Supreme Court that he already plans to resign. Judge Michaelson expressed his occasional frustration due to inadequate resources within the trial courts, “I have felt frustrated with how difficult it is for trial courts to get necessary resources, and the implicit and explicit threats to judges from within and outside the judicial department,” he wrote. “In my opinion, the proposed judicial ombudsman office is a good start in making everyone more accountable and reducing the almost unmanageable stress of our jobs.”

However, attorney Cohen calls for Judge Michaelson to be removed from the bench before his scheduled resignation this summer, emphasizing, “You should not allow him to remain (on) the bench for more than three months while he ignores the law and uses his power to bully and punish others who want a fair shake.” 


Source: The Denver Post