On Monday, March 18, 2024, Colorado Politics reported that complaints against judges in Colorado sharply increased in 2023 according to the state’s Judicial Discipline Commission’s annual summary.

The Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline, which oversees investigations into claims of judicial misconduct, saw a large jump in requests for evaluations filed last year. In 2023 there were 344 complaints submitted compared to just 249 in 2022, which was previously the highest amount on record.

A significant number of the additional complaints stem from a single high-profile case from late 2022. Eleven requests concerned the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling in Anderson v. Griswold that found former President Donald Trump was ineligible for the state’s presidential primary ballot due to his role in the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the state court’s decision earlier this month.

Besides matters related to Anderson v. Griswold, 73 other open complaints at the end of last year involved revelations that dozens of judges failed to properly file annual financial disclosures as required by state law. Nearly half of all complaints received fell under disputes regarding judges’ rulings, which are normally addressed through the appeals process rather than judicial discipline.

The commission’s report outlined punishments handed out in a few cases of substantiated misconduct. Former Chief Justice Nathan Coats received a public censure for improperly awarding a contract. Two other former district court judges, Mark Thompson, and Lance Timbreza, also received censures for verbally abusive and inappropriate sexual behaviors respectively.

Additionally, the summary detailed two instances where judges privately agreed to resign from the bench due to misconduct. One was later identified as Adams County District Judge Robert Kiesnowski, who had retaliated against his assistant and was publicly censured this year for further wrongdoing after leaving office. The other anonymous judge pursued an illegal romantic relationship and provided excessive amounts of marijuana to their partner.

In November, Colorado voters will decide on a proposed amendment seeking to bring more transparency to the judicial discipline process and clarify the Supreme Court’s role in handling misconduct cases. The commission has undergone leadership and investigative changes recently while continuing its work to enforce high standards of conduct for state jurists.

 

 

Source: Colorado Politics