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Ashby, Karen 2016 Evaluation


Colorado Court of Appeals

Honorable Karen M. Ashby 

Retention Year: 2020
Recommendation: Retain


2016 Retention Survey Report 

2015 Interim Survey Report 


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The State Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a vote of 8 to 0, with two recusals, that Judge Karen M. Ashby BE RETAINED.

Judge Ashby was sworn in as a member of the Colorado Court of Appeals on December 12, 2013.  Prior to her appointment, she was the Presiding Judge of the Denver Juvenile Court for fourteen years.  Judge Ashby also served as a judge in the Aurora Municipal Court from 1995 to 1998.  She received her undergraduate degree from Williams College.  She graduated from the University of Denver College of Law in 1983.  Before becoming a judge, she had a private practice specializing in criminal trials, appeals, and family law. Judge Ashby also served in the Denver trial office of the Colorado State Public Defender.  She currently serves as the Chair of the Colorado Supreme Court Court Improvement Committee and the Chair of the Colorado Supreme Court Juvenile Rules Committee.  She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Colorado Our Courts program.  She is a member of the Courts Catalyzing Change National Steering Committee, the National Association of Women Judges, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  Judge Ashby has served as a presenter for numerous programs and organizations, focusing particularly on juveniles in the justice system.
The Commission reviewed survey responses from attorneys and judges regarding Judge Ashby’s performance, read opinions she authored, observed her in oral arguments, reviewed her self-evaluation, and conducted a personal interview.  The survey asked “how strongly do you recommend that Judge Ashby be retained in office, or not be retained in office?”  Of attorneys completing the survey 71% recommended to retain, 22% recommended not to retain, and 8% made no recommendation.  Of judges completing the survey 98% recommended to retain and 2% made no recommendation.
Attorney survey responses indicate that Judge Ashby performs slightly above average in the areas of being courteous, treating parties equally regardless of race, sex, or economic status, and issuing opinions in a timely manner.  Attorneys commented that she is hard-working and fair.  A few attorney comments indicate that Judge Ashby’s opinions seem more focused on reaching a particular conclusion than in following legal precedent.  Both attorneys and district court judges stated that her expertise in juvenile law is an asset to the Court, and the Commission agrees.  The comments of attorneys and district court judges indicate that she writes fair, clear, and concise opinions.  While the Commission agrees with Judge Ashby that she should continue to broaden her knowledge base in areas of the law outside of juvenile law, the Commission appreciates the clarity and organization of her writing.