Second Judicial District - Denver County Judge
Honorable Johnny C. Barajas
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Johnny C. Barajas MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Barajas was appointed to the Denver County Court in January 2003 and currently serves in the criminal division. Before his appointment, Judge Barajas served as a District Court Magistrate for juvenile and family law matters in Adams County. He received his law degree from the University of Denver in 1984 and began his legal career at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow in poverty law. Judge Barajas also practiced in two Denver law firms and in his own practice before taking the bench.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Barajas, reviewed opinions he authored, observed him in court, met with representatives of the prosecutor and public defender’s offices, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge Barajas. Among the survey questions was “based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge Barajas meets judicial performance standards?” Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 88% answered, yes, meets performance standards, and 12% answered no, does not meet performance standards. Of non-attorneys responding to the survey, 67% answered yes, meets performance standards, 29% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 5% had no opinion regarding whether Judge Barajas meets or does not meet performance standards. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding). The response rates for surveys administered to assess Judge Barajas’ performance were quite low (29% for attorneys and 2% for non-attorneys (just 36 out of 2,685 non-attorneys responded and 1/3 of those said they lacked sufficient knowledges to respond).
Judge Barajas presided over criminal court this term. Survey ratings by attorneys for Judge Barajas were higher than the average for county court judges standing for retention in all areas of judicial performance. The ratings from non-attorneys were slightly lower than average, although the number of non-attorney respondents who responded was extremely small. The Commission’s courtroom observation, interview and reviews of written material provide a picture of a Judge consistent with the positive comments of survey respondents. These include attorney comments that describe Judge Barajas as an “excellent judicial officer,” “fair and compassionate,” and “consistent, well prepared and giving the proceedings dignity.” The Commission was impressed by Judge Barajas’ reflection on the survey responses and ongoing commitment to improve. The Commission concludes that Judge Barajas meets the judicial performance standards.