Fourth Judicial District - El Paso County Court Judge
Honorable Christopher E. Acker
Retention Year: 2010
The Fourth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance by a vote of 6-3 recommends that Judge Christopher E. Acker BE RETAINED. One Commissioner was absent.
Judge Acker was appointed to the County Court, El Paso County in 2003. Judge Acker earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Northern Colorado, and then earned his Juris Doctorate from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Judge Acker’s volunteer efforts serve both the judicial branch and the broader community. Court-related activities include the Colorado County Court Judicial Workload Study Committee, the El Paso County Personal Recognizance Bond Committee, the Community Services Oversight Liaison and cooking for the El Paso County Judicial Complex Employee Appreciation outings. Volunteer services in the broader community include serving on the board of Partners In Housing, Inc., and coaching a girl’s fast pitch softball team. Judge Acker’s docket currently consists primarily of misdemeanor criminal cases but also includes some civil matters. When appointed to the bench Judge Acker had his own practice, Christopher E. Acker, P.C. He had previously clerked for a justice on the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Commission considered survey data and comments, an interview of Judge Acker, courtroom observations, case management data and the judge’s self-evaluation. The Commission identified several concerns based on Judge Acker’s survey data and comments. Fifty-five attorneys completed and returned a questionnaire. Although that is a small sample size, the Commission is concerned that Judge Acker scored below the statewide average for all county court judges on every category of the survey. Two categories were of significant concern: demeanor and a perceived lack of neutrality. On Demeanor, Judge Acker’s scores on Treating parties with respect and Conducting his courtroom in a neutral manner were respectively 1.31 and 1.14 points below the statewide average on a four-point scale. Attorneys completing the questionnaire reported overwhelmingly (94%) that Judge Acker was either “very biased” or “somewhat biased” in favor of the prosecution. A much larger sample size of non-attorney respondents (160 completed and returned surveys) rated Judge Acker as average.
Notwithstanding the concerns set forth above, the Commission recommends that Judge Acker be retained. In making that recommendation, the Commission also recommended that Judge Acker be placed on a performance improvement plan to address the concerns regarding his demeanor and the apparent bias in favor of the prosecution. Regarding that apparent bias, the Commission notes that 39 defense attorneys completed and returned the survey while just four prosecuting attorneys did so.
Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 53% recommended to retain, 39% not to retain, and 8% expressed no opinion. Of those expressing an opinion, 57% recommended to retain and 43% not to retain. Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 83% recommended to retain, 4% not to retain, and 12% expressed no opinion. Of those expressing an opinion, 95% recommended to retain and 5% not to retain. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.)