First Judicial District - Jefferson County Judge
Honorable Verna Lee Carpenter
Retention Year: 2020
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously agrees by a vote of 10-0 that Judge Verna Lee Carpenter MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Carpenter presides over misdemeanor, traffic, civil and small claims cases. Judge Carpenter views her court as a problem-solving court that seeks to address underlying problems contributing to certain offenses. Judge Carpenter ensures she is well-prepared for court by conducting research on legal issues presented in the cases before her docket. She is recognized for her directness, her strong grasp of the rules of evidence, as well as case law. Judge Carpenter is good at explaining the rationale for motions, sentences, and decisions. She is a role model in the way she interacts with and helps jurors.
To assess Judge Carpenter’s performance, the Commission conducted an interview, read opinions she authored, observed her while on the bench, reviewed comments received from interested parties, and considered survey responses from those who have had experience with Judge Carpenter. From the survey, 75 percent of non-attorneys and 64 percent of attorneys agreed that Judge Carpenter meets performance standards. Judge Carpenter is performing extremely well in her role and is a performance leader among county court judges. According to the open case reports, Judge Carpenter is among the most efficient case managers which is particularly impressive given her maintenance of high scores in all the other performance categories. While survey respondents compliment Carpenter for careful and helpful explanations on complex legal matters, some attorney survey respondents indicated that Judge Carpenter can seem pointedly direct at times. Some respondents suggested Judge Carpenter could soften her demeanor in the court room. The children, community, and litigants of the First Judicial District are well served by having Judge Verna Carpenter on the bench.
Judge Carpenter received her undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State College and later obtained her Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law. Before taking the bench, Judge Carpenter was a Chief Deputy District Attorney for the City and County of Denver. She was appointed to the Jefferson County Court in 2008 and has handled traffic, criminal, and misdemeanor cases. An active member of the community, she judges moot court for the University of Denver and the University of Colorado law schools and teaches at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Judge Carpenter is a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision.