On Friday, June 28, 2024, Dennis Maes, a retired chief district judge for Colorado’s 10th Judicial District, published an opinion piece on Colorado Politics criticizing the way the Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline have handled allegations of judicial misconduct.

The piece focuses on Maes’ own experience filing a Request for Evaluation against Chief Justice Brian Boatright in November 2022 over several alleged violations of judicial conduct rules in relation to the 2019 Pay for Silence scandal. This scandal involved an attempt to offer former State Court Administrator Chief of Staff Mindy Masias a lucrative consulting contract after she faced disciplinary action, in exchange for dirt on judges accused of misconduct.

Maes claims Boatright violated rules prohibiting public comments that could affect pending cases, made pledges inconsistent with impartiality, and engaged in prohibited ex parte communications by announcing investigations into allegations without going through the proper channels. However, the Commission dismissed all but one allegation against Boatright after nearly 19 months, merely expressing concern over one violation but providing no explanation.

Maes criticizes the Commission for its lack of transparency, timeliness, and clarity in its handling of the complaint. He notes it took over 10 months for Boatright to even receive notice of the allegations against him, well past the requirement for “as soon as practicable” notification. Moreover, Maes was unable to access Boatright’s response or provide any rebuttal.

The opaque dismissal left Maes feeling “dismayed, dumbfounded and extremely marginalized” by a system supposedly aimed at transparency and accountability. As a former longtime chief judge himself, he stresses the importance of providing specific findings of fact and evidence to justify decisions.

Overall, Maes uses his own complaint to argue the Colorado Supreme Court’s oversight of judicial misconduct falls short of its promises for real reform following the Pay for Silence scandal. He believes the court remains insulated from legitimate complaints as long as it oversees the disciplinary process.



Source: Colorado Politics