Twentieth Judicial District - Boulder County Court Judge
Honorable Noel E. Blum
Retention Year: 2010
The Twentieth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a unanimous vote that Judge Noel E. Blum BE RETAINED.
Background: Judge Blum graduated from the University of Vermont and in 1984 earned his law degree from the University of Colorado. He served for 19 years as a Deputy District Attorney for the First Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin Counties) before being appointed to the Boulder County Court bench in 2003. His caseload includes a high volume of misdemeanor and traffic cases, particularly DUI and domestic violence, and civil cases involving less than $15,000.
Information Reviewed: The Commission examined a self-evaluation written by Judge Blum, and Commission members observed Judge Blum on the bench in a wide array of court proceedings. The Commission also held a public hearing to solicit additional feedback. Judge Blum appeared before the Commission for a personal interview, and the Commission reviewed questionnaires that were distributed to and returned by attorneys and non-attorneys in the area who have personal knowledge of Judge Blum’s judicial performance.
Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 69% recommended to retain, 20% not to retain, and 12% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 78% recommended to retain and 22% not to retain. Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 86% recommended to retain, 8% not to retain, and 6% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 92% recommended to retain and 8% not to retain. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.) Survey results are less than the statewide average for county court judges. Upon closer examination, the Commission felt that even more respondents would have favored retention had the questionnaires been sent to a more representative sample of those with experiences in Judge Blum’s courtroom, and/or the respondents constituted a better selection of those sampled. For unknown reasons, no prosecutors were surveyed.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Data from the questionnaires give Judge Blum strong marks in his case management and knowledge of the applicable law, while at the same time revealing some concerns about demeanor and communication. The Commission was particularly impressed by Judge Blum’s knowledge of the law, his willingness to engage in critical self-reflection, and his keen attentiveness to the special needs of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. In addition, the Commission applauds his efforts over the past four years to improve his demeanor and to inspire confidence in his judicial neutrality. While some concerns were voiced about his temperament with certain attorneys and litigants, the Commission members were convinced that Judge Blum recognizes this issue and continues to improve on this front. Statistical data show that he handles his caseload with efficiency.
Recommendation: The Commission believes that Judge Blum is committed to working unusually hard and to continuing to grow on the job. We see an overall pattern of excellence and have no significant concerns.