Three judges are standing for retention this November in La Plata County.
All three Chief District Judge Gregory Lyman, District Judge Jeffrey Wilson and La Plata County Judge Martha Minot are recommended for retention by a local judicial district performance commission.
Wilson and Minot declined to comment for this article, citing ethical reasons.
Lyman said, I think were all satisfied with the evaluation process.
Colorado judges are appointed by the governor rather than elected on a political ticket. Newcomers often are taken aback when they see only one name on the ballot for a judgeship, said Jane Howell, executive director of the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation.
I get that a lot This judge isnt running against anybody? she said.
Performance commissions evaluate judges and provide voters with their findings during general elections.
If retained, county judges serve four years and district judges serve six years. There are no term limits, but state judges must retire by age 72.
Lyman and Wilson represent the 6th Judicial District, which covers Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata counties. Minot oversees misdemeanor cases in La Plata County.
Lyman, 60, was appointed by former Gov. Roy Romer on June 1, 1996. He oversees divorces, criminal cases and water court cases.
Lyman graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1979. He worked in private practice specializing in domestic relations, criminal defense and insurance defense. He served in the 7th and 6th judicial district attorneys offices and was elected district attorney for the 6th Judicial District in 1992.
Lyman grew up in a suburb of Chicago and joined the hometown speed-skating club. He placed 20th out of 42 skaters in the 500-meter speed-skating event at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. He moved to Durango in 1983.
Lyman received high marks from the performance-review commission in every category, including knowledge of the law, communication, demeanor and diligence. A survey of attorneys scored him slightly below average on case management, including promptly issuing rulings and decisions.
Judge Lymans favorable judicial performance statistics place him among the highest levels achieved by any district judge in Colorado, the performance commission wrote. The Sixth Judicial District is well served by Chief Judge Gregory G. Lyman.
Wilson, 55, was appointed in July 2002 by former Gov. Bill Owens. He oversees civil, criminal, probate and child-custody cases.
He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1980. Before he became a judge, Wilson worked as a deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs, Cortez and in the 6th Judicial District. He also worked in private practice, specializing in criminal defense, personal injury and family law. While in private practice, Wilson was a prosecutor for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and then a tribal judge.
Wilson has lived in Durango for 26 years.
Wilson received favorable reviews for his judicial performance. But the review commission expressed concerns with Wilsons courtroom decorum, including treating participants with respect.
A survey of attorneys scored Wilson slightly below average in five categories: case management, application and knowledge of the law, communications, demeanor and diligence.
A survey of non-attorneys also scored Wilson slightly below average in five categories: demeanor, fairness, communications, diligence and application of the law.
The commission voted 7 to 2 in favor of retaining Wilson.
Minot, 53, was appointed in March 1995 by former Gov. Roy Romer. She hears 30 percent civil cases and 70 percent criminal cases. She has the largest caseload of any judge in the 6th Judicial District.
Minot received her law degree from the University of Colorado in 1983. Before her appointment, she was in private practice in Durango specializing in domestic relations and served as a part-time county magistrate for La Plata County.
In addition to her busy judicial schedule, Minot volunteers several hours each month for law-related community-service programs. She also volunteers for non-law-related programs. She is particularly proud of her work on Drug Court, which has won praise from participants, victims and their families.
Minot scored below average in every category including case management, overall application and knowledge of the law, communications, demeanor and diligence based on survey responses from 42 attorneys.
Non-attorneys gave Minot more favorable grades, but she still scored slightly below average in every category, including demeanor, fairness, communications, diligence and overall legal ability.
Still, the judicial commission recommends Minot be retained.
She handles a difficult, high-volume docket with efficiency and competence while maintaining integrity and fairness in her decisions, the judicial-review commission wrote.