Sixteenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Robert E. Blackburn
Retention Year: 1990
Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation: Should Be Retained.
Judge Blackburn graduated from Las Animas High School in 1968. He took his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1974.
He began to practice law in a private partnership with the late Oakley Wade in Las Animas on May 19, 1975.
He was appointed to the 16th Judicial District Court bench on July 13, 1988.
Blackburn believes his current docket is manageable, with 40% or more of his time spent on criminal cases and another 30 to 35% on domestic relations cases.
Asked about his sentencing philosophy, Blackburn said he tries to balance several conflicting sets of factors, such as the desire to be consistent in all similar offenses with the desire to be consistent in all similar offenses with the desire to view each case individually, and the need to reconcile retribution with rehabilitation.
Asked about plea bargaining, Blackburn said it is legislative sanctioned and a fact of life. He estimated 90% of cases filed in his court end up in plea bargains. He explained that, as a judge, he does not enter into the bargaining process in any way; he does, however, have the final say in whether a bargain is acceptable or not.
Asked what he enjoyed most about being on the bench, Blackburn said he finds uncontested adoptions, where someone truly wants the child and the child truly wants to be a part of their family, the most rewarding. Conversely, hotly contested child custody cases where the parents or other parties are fairly evenly qualified are the most difficult for him.
Asked about the potential for conflict of interest or an appearance of impropriety because of prior dealings or involvement with either litigants or their attorneys, in view of the relatively small pool of lawyers in the district, Blackburn said he has never found it difficult to swap cases with Judge M. Jon Kolomitz. Nor, the very few times it has been necessary, has it been difficult to have such a case heard by a judge from a nearby judicial district.