Four Mesa County judges get approval for retention vote
Four Mesa County judges facing voters in the Nov. 4 general election should stay in their jobs, according to state evaluations released Tuesday.
Chief District Judge David Bottger, District Judge Thomas Deister, District Judge Brian Flynn and County Court Judge Bruce Raaum — all of them facing a retention vote this fall — received unanimous “retain” recommendations from a performance commission made up of 10 local residents.
Bottger was appointed to the bench in 1987, while 86 percent of lawyers, and 84 percent of non-lawyers, recommended in a survey that voters keep him. The state evaluation noted Bottger is in a leadership role in the implementation of Mesa County’s Evidence-Based Decision initiative, an effort designed to reduce recidivism in criminal cases.
Bottger made headlines June 11 when he issued an order granting a new trial for Michael Blagg, the man convicted at trial in 2004 for the murder of his wife, Jennifer.
“The committee found Judge Bottger to be hard working, intelligent, diligent, able to implement change and a strong leader,” an evaluation read.
Bottger, Deister and Raaum were scored overall at, or above, average for similarly situated judges in Colorado. Flynn scored slightly below average for Colorado district court judges.
Colorado’s Office of Judicial Performance on Tuesday released evaluations for 146 judges facing a retention vote this fall. Just three judges received a recommendation of “do not retain.”
Deister, who was appointed to the bench in 2006, was noted for strengths including “neutrality and thoughtfulness” but criticized for demeanor.
“Judge Deister needs to improve his demeanor in the courtroom,” an evaluation reads. “The commission found that Judge Deister has already implemented a plan to address this issue and also found that his desire to improve in this area is sincere.”
Flynn, appointed to the bench in 2005, has seen growth as a judge while Raaum was found to be “hard-working and conscientious.”
Full evaluations are available online, at http://www.coloradojudicialperformance.gov.
Mesa County’s judicial performance commission includes five attorneys, Steve Colvin, Martelle Daniels, Martha Kent and Lance Timbreza, along with Kimberly Bullen, Adele Cummings, Michael Delaney, Susan Redmond and Bill Wade.
Performance commissions recommended voters retain Seventh Judicial District judges Steven Patrick and Mary Deganhart, along with Montrose County judges Julie Huffman and Ben Morris.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch, as well as Garfield County judges Paul Metzger and Bruce Pototsky, were also recommended to be retained.
Lynch and Metzger received criticism in surveys for perceived bias for the prosecution.