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Celeste, Mary 2010 Evaluation


Second Judicial District - Denver County Court Judge 

Honorable Mary A. Celeste

Retention Year: 2010
Recommendation: No Opinion 

The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance, on an evenly divided vote, expresses NO OPINION on the retention of Judge Mary A. Celeste.

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 trust and estate matters. Judge Celeste received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and her law degree from California Western School of Law.

Judge Celeste has presided in traffic court and criminal court. Since 2009 she has served as Presiding Judge for the Denver County Court. In that position she hears preliminary hearings in first degree murder cases, handles many administrative matters, and represents the Denver County Court in many different venues. She was active in the planning of the new Denver Justice Center and the development of the Denver County Court Sobriety Court. She serves as President of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Foundation, and is the President-Elect of the American Judges Association.
The Commission reviewed the results of surveys of lawyers and non-lawyers, interviewed the judge several times, and reviewed two written opinions, a transcript of an oral ruling and additional supportive material submitted by the judge.

Judge Celeste received the lowest average ratings from attorneys among all county court judges in Denver standing for retention this year. In every area of case management, application and knowledge of the law, communications, demeanor, and diligence, Judge Celeste received scores from attorneys below the average of all county court judges in Colorado. However, from non-attorneys, Judge Celeste received average scores slightly higher than the average of all county court judges in Colorado in the areas of demeanor, fairness, communications, diligence and legal ability. Her average scores from non-attorneys were in the middle of the scores received by the other county court judges in Denver standing for retention this year. Many of the issues raised in this year’s evaluation
were raised in previous evaluations in 2002 and 2006. Particularly concerning to the Commission were the very low ratings Judge Celeste received from attorneys for overall demeanor.

The Commission unanimously recommends that Judge Celeste enter into an improvement plan supervised by the Chief Judge of the Denver District Court. Judge Celeste voluntarily has agreed to enter into such a supervised improvement plan.
Of all the attorneys surveyed about retention, 60% recommended to retain, 31% not to retain, and 9% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 66% recommended to retain and 34% not to retain. Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 84% recommended to retain, 4% not to retain, and 12% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 95% recommended to retain and 5% not to retain.