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Ensor, Thomas 2010 Evaluation


Seventeenth Judicial District - District Court Judge 

Honorable Thomas R. Ensor

Retention Year: 2010
Recommendation: Retain


2010 Retention Survey Report

2009 Interim Survey Report


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The Seventeenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends that Judge Thomas R. Ensor BE RETAINED.

Judge Ensor first was appointed to the District Court bench in 1984 by Governor Richard Lamm, having previously served as a County Court Judge in the Adams County Court, beginning in 1978. Prior to his judicial service, Judge Ensor was the Chief Deputy District Attorney in Adams County. Judge Ensor began his legal career as a VISTA attorney assigned to the Adams County Legal Aid Society handling poverty law matters for people who could not afford legal assistance.

Judge Ensor’s experience spans the entire range of district court cases, but most recently his docket has been comprised of domestic relations and civil litigation. Judge Ensor, however, continues to volunteer to handle criminal cases as needed, having presided over four criminal jury trials, including a first-degree murder and attempted murder case during the time that he was assigned to the domestic relations docket. Judge Ensor has been active in the District Court’s “Early Neutral Assessment” project in domestic relations cases, which tries to reach mutual agreements between divorcing couples regarding parental responsibility and parenting-time issues. Judge Ensor reports that this program has been successful in avoiding prolonged litigation in divorce cases, and he believes this kind of mediation effort benefits the judicial system as a whole.

Judge Ensor impressed the Commission as a conscientious jurist who is rigorous with the attorneys who appear before him, but exceptionally compassionate to the non-attorneys in his court. The Commission sensed that Judge Ensor’s extensive preparation for cases may be perceived by attorneys as an arrogant demeanor, but his effort serves the process well in terms of his efficiency in resolving cases. The Commission’s assessment is based on extensive research regarding the judge, including a professional survey of attorneys and others who have appeared in his court, a personal interview with the judge, the judge’s own written self-evaluation, copies of decisions rendered by the judge, case-processing statistics, and personal observations of the judge in his courtroom. Over the last decade, Judge Ensor has consistently been rated lower by attorneys than non-attorneys. Judge Ensor attributes this pattern to his high standards for the attorneys who practice before him. Because Judge Ensor does not have an unusual pattern of appellate reversals, the Commission believes that the judge’s lower ratings from attorneys are more of a reflection of his personality than his skill as a judge.

Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 70% recommended to retain, 24% not to retain and 7% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 75% recommended to retain and 25% not to retain. (This is the same retention recommendation percentage for attorney respondents as was the case during Judge Ensor’s last retention evaluation in 2004.) Of all non-attorneys surveyed about retention, 95% recommended to retain, 3% not to retain and 2% expressed no opinion. Excluding those who had no opinion, 96% recommended to retain and 3% not to retain. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.) The results of the Commission’s survey showed very high ratings from non-attorney respondents. It is the Commission’s unanimous recommendation to retain Judge Thomas R. Ensor.