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Celeste, Mary 2002 Evaluation


Second Judicial District - Denver County Court Judge

Honorable Mary A. Celeste 

Retention Year: 2002
Recommendation: Retain

The Second Judicial Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Mary A. Celeste BE RETAINED.

Judge Celeste was appointed to the Denver County Court bench in April 2000. Prior to her appointment, Judge Celeste was a partner in a law firm specializing in personal injury cases and trusts and estates matters. Judge Celeste received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and her law degree from California Western University, where she was the editor-in-chief of the International Law Journal. Judge Celeste has presided in traffic court and has heard both misdemeanor and criminal matters.

Judge Celeste has assisted in developing computer programs for a "paperless court." She serves on the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Executive Committee and the Education Committee for the American Judges’ Association. She participates in the American Inns of Courts as a mentor. Judge Celeste is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Law School. She has volunteered as a remedial reading teacher of elementary school children. Judge Celeste enjoys boating, astronomy and her children and grandchildren.

The Commission reviewed written evaluations of Judge Celeste received from attorneys and non-attorneys, including written comments. The Commission also considered a written self-evaluation completed by Judge Celeste and conducted a personal interview with her.

Judge Celeste received relatively low ratings from both attorneys and non-attorneys in the areas of courtesy, impartiality, professional demeanor and punctuality. Of the attorney responses to the questionnaire, 60% recommended retention, 25% recommended she not be retained and 15% had no opinion. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 69% recommended retention, 21% recommended non-retention and 9% had no opinion.

The Commission, upon complete review, determined that the negative issues indicated in the written evaluations are attributable to Judge Celeste’s relative inexperience with criminal matters; her abrupt, straightforward communication style; her transition from being an advocate to acting as a judge; and the pressure of handling thousands of traffic cases and several hundred final hearings in her first year. Judge Celeste has addressed these issues by expressing her interest in improving the system and herself. She has initiated monthly meetings with city attorneys, public defenders and non-attorney personnel. She will attend judicial conferences and take courses on criminal rules and procedures. The Commission finds that she is willing to modify and implement changes and recommends that she be retained in office.