Ninth Judicial District - Garfield County Court Judge
Honorable Stephen L. Carter
Retention Year: 1990
Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation: Should Be Retained.
Judge Carter presides as county judge in Rifle. His position is part-time and he also has an active private practice which includes serving as Rifle City Attorney, a position he has held since 1976. Carter presides over misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic cases, civil cases involving less than $5,000 ($10,000 effective Jan. 1, 1991) and small claims cases. Carter received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in journalism in 1967. He received a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1971. Between college and law school he served in the Peace Corps in Colombia.
He was admitted to practice law in Colorado in October 1971 and worked for 9 months for the District Attorney’s office in Glenwood Springs. In June 1972, he moved his practice to Rifle and at that time was appointed special associate county court judge, a position which he has held since.
In written comments Carter was rated especially high as a hard worker who is courteous in court and makes well-reasoned decisions, free from bias and prejudgment. Although there was criticism from the few individuals who did not want Carter retained, the commission members spoke with Carter about the criticisms and were satisfied with his responses.
Questioned about the potential conflict of interest in connection with his representation of the city of Rifle, Carter said a Colorado Supreme Court justice had advised him there was no conflict. Additionally, he informs litigants of the potential conflict prior to trial and allows them to choose another judge if they desire.