Sixth Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Suzanne Fairchild Carlson
Retention Year: 2020
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Sixth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Suzanne Fairchild Carlson MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Carlson presides primarily over criminal, domestic, and civil matters with some probate matters in her court. Judge Carlson was described in many received written survey comments as being fair, having a calm demeanor, and giving the parties appearing in her court an opportunity to be heard. Some of Judge Carlson’s perceived shortcomings, as identified in the surveys, include the timeliness and clarity of her rulings and the amount of leeway she grants some attorneys in her courtroom. In her personal interview, Judge Carlson indicated that she was aware of her perceived shortcomings and listed the affirmative steps she has taken to address those issues. The Commission is satisfied with the steps Judge Carlson has taken. While Judge Carlson received an overall combined average rating in survey results from both attorneys and non-attorneys which are below the average combined rating of all district judges standing for retention this election; the Commission, in conducting its evaluation, finds Judge Carlson’s overall performance meets performance standards as a District Court Judge.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Carlson, reviewed decisions she authored, observed her in court (via WebEx), met with the District Attorney and the Public Defender, reviewed written comments from the public, and analyzed survey responses and comments from attorneys and non-attorneys who appeared in her court. Among the survey questions was “does Judge Carlson meet the performance standards?” Of attorneys completing the survey, 71% indicated she meets performance standards while 21% indicated she does not meet performance standards. Of non-attorneys completing the survey, 67% indicated she meets performance standards while 33% indicated she does not meet performance standards. Judge Carlson received an overall combined average rating in the survey results (3.0 out of 4.0) that was below the average combined rating of all District Court Judges across the state (3.4 out of 4.0) .
Judge Carlson was appointed to the District Court for the Sixth Judicial District in July of 2012. Prior to her appointment, she served as a judge for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for six years. She also practiced at the Law Firm of Lisa Ward LLC with a focus on divorce and child custody matters. Prior to 2005, Judge Carlson served as a Deputy State Public Defender as a criminal defense attorney for approximately 10 years. Judge Carlson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado 1990, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado Law School in 1994.