Colorado Supreme Court
Honorable Michael L. Bender
Retention Year: 2010
The State Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a vote of 7 to 1 that Justice Michael L. Bender BE RETAINED. Two Commissioners recused.
Justice Bender was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1997. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and received his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1967. Since his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Bender has been involved in several judicial committees, including Chair of the Judicial Building Steering Committee for the new Ralph Carr Justice Center, liaison to the Judicial Discipline Commission, and Chair of the Jury Reform Standing Committee. He is also a member of various bar association committees and involved in numerous community service activities. In 2006, he received the University of Colorado School of Law Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement.
Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Bender was in private practice specializing in criminal and civil litigation. He was president and shareholder of Michael L. Bender, P.C. Prior to that, he was in practice with Bender & Treece, P.C. Between 1968 and 1978, he served as a public defender and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Justice Bender was also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver College of Law for five years, teaching criminal law, criminal trial advocacy, and employment discrimination law.
Attorneys who responded to survey questions indicate that, compared to the other justices, Justice Bender’s performance is somewhat stronger in the areas of making decisions without regard to possible criticism, writing opinions that are clear, and refraining from deciding issues that need not be decided. Several attorney comments reflected concern that Justice Bender’s opinions are result oriented. The judges surveyed indicate that Justice Bender’s performance is somewhat weaker for refraining from reaching issues that need not be decided, making reasoned decisions, and being fair and impartial. Several commented that Justice Bender is a good judge dedicated to the legal community. The Commission reviewed a number of opinions written by Justice Bender. The Commission found that they are for the most part thoughtful and reasoned, but some opinions are overly detailed and difficult to follow.
Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 79% recommended to retain, 17% not to retain, and 4% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 82% recommended to retain and 17% not to retain. Of all judges surveyed, 84% recommended to retain, 13% not to retain, and 3% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 87% recommended to retain and 13% not to retain. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.)