Sixth Judicial District - Archuleta County Judge
Honorable Justin P. Fay
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Sixth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (9-0) agrees that Archuleta County Court Judge Justin P. Fay MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Fay was appointed to the bench in Archuleta County on September 20, 2016. For the decade prior, Judge Fay served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Sixth Judicial District in Durango. As a Deputy District Attorney, Judge Fay handled a District Court Docket and supervised attorneys appearing in County Court. Judge Fay graduated from Niwot High School (Diploma 1999), Colorado State University (B.S. Business Administration 2003), and University of Tulsa College of Law (J.D. 2005) and attended the University of Pittsburgh /Semester at Sea (Spring 2002), Stetson University College of Law (Summer 2004), and University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Fall 2005). Judge Fay lives in Pagosa Springs with his wife and three children and enjoys reading memoirs, playing ice hockey, cooking, and riding motorcycles.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Fay, reviewed opinions he authored, observed him in court, reviewed comments received from interested parties during the evaluation, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge Fay. Among the survey questions was “do you think Judge Fay meets judicial performance standards?” Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 86% answered, yes, meets performance standards, 0% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 14% had no opinion. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 87% answered yes, meets performance standards, 4% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 9% had no opinion. Seven attorneys and 23 non-attorneys said they had sufficient experience to evaluate Judge Fay by answering the survey.
Judge Fay presides over the Archuleta County Court docket comprised of approximately 75% criminal cases and 25% civil cases. In the Commission’s overall evaluation, Judge Fay clearly meets or exceeds each of the performance standards (Case Management, Application and Knowledge of Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness). The attorneys who responded to the survey support this finding; Judge Fay scored above the average for county judges in every measure in every area, with the sole exception related to promptly issuing decisions after trial. Indeed, one attorney commented that “Archuleta County really couldn’t ask for a better judge.” No attorney identified any weaknesses that would warrant a concern. The non-attorneys who responded to the survey also supported Judge Fay. In Demeanor and Fairness, they rated him higher than the average county judge. In Application and Knowledge of Law, Communications, and Diligence, Judge Fay scored slightly below. The non-attorney response rate was low and comments were not detailed, which did not allow the Commission to understand the lower rating. In the Commission’s interviews with representatives from the Public Defender’s and District Attorney’s offices, a similar theme emerged, that Judge Fay consistently exceeded the performance standards. Specifically, the Commission heard that Judge Fay was fair, thoughtful, in control of the docket, and a good communicator. Finally, the Commission noted Judge Fay’s even-tempered demeanor on the bench while observing and practicing in front of him; his actions corroborated the survey results.