Retain local judges

Criminal defense attorneys ganged up on Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn in surveys conducted through Colorado’s Commissions on Judicial Performance. But we believe Flynn, along with other local judges on the ballot this year, deserve to be retained.

Under Colorado’s judicial system, judges don’t run for election like political candidates. They are appointed to their jobs by the governor, must be confirmed by the state Senate, then must stand for retention elections every few years. Citizens can vote to retain them in office or reject their retention.

Judicial performance commissions in every judicial district in the state evaluate the judges’ standing for retention each election year. They conduct surveys of attorneys and non-attorneys who deal with the judges, interview the judges and watch them at work. In the vast majority of instances, they recommend retention.

Judge Flynn is known for his tough sentences for criminals and his no-nonsense demeanor in court and criminal defense attorneys responded in higher numbers than normal to the judicial performance survey on
Flynn. They complained that he is “biased in favor of the prosecution and harsh in his sentencing,” according to the 21st Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance. And only 57 percent of the attorneys responding to the survey supported Flynn’s retention, compared to the statewide average of 90 percent support.

Obviously, Flynn has ruffled some feathers among the defense bar with his tough tactics, but there is nothing in his performance evaluation that suggests he has acted inappropriately or improperly. Moreover, non-attorneys who responded to the survey — people such as court officials, police officers, crime victims and probation officers — supported Flynn’s retention in higher numbers than the statewide average. In particular, they gave him high marks for his communication skills, his work ethic and his sense of fairness.

The 21st Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends Flynn be retained in office. We heartily concur.

None of the other four judges in Mesa County who are up for retention this year has stirred up as much opposition as Flynn has, and all of them deserve to be retained.

Heading the list is Chief District Judge David Bottger, who has served as a district judge in Mesa County for 21 years. Support for Bottger from both attorneys and non-attorneys significantly exceeded statewide averages for all district court judges. The commission found him to be hard-working, knowledgeable about the law and fair-minded.

District Judge Thomas Deister also received solid rankings from attorneys and non-attorneys alike. He is particularly noted for his professionalism and knowledge of criminal law.

County Judges Gretchen Larson and Craig Henderson also received favorable recommendations from the Commission on Judicial Performance.

Based on these recommendations and our own observations, The Daily Sentinel urges Mesa County residents to vote “Yes” to retain Chief District Judge David Bottger, District Judge Tom Deister, District Judge Brian Flynn, County Judge Craig Henderson and County Judge Gretchen Larson.


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