Tenth Judicial District - Pueblo County Court Judge
Honorable Steven B. Fieldman
Retention Year: 2010
The Tenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a majority vote of 8-2 that Judge Steven B. Fieldman BE RETAINED WITH AN IMPROVEMENT PLAN.
Judge Steven B. Fieldman was appointed to the County Court bench on January 4, 2008, after a lengthy career in the Pueblo County District Attorney’s Office under both Gus Sandstrom and Bill Thiebaut.
The Commission utilized survey results, interviews with various agency representatives who are familiar with Judge Fieldman, observed him in the courtroom and conducted personal interviews. In assessing a judge’s performance it is as important to review his knowledge and application of the law as well as his behavior and temperament. Judge Fieldman appears to have a good understanding of criminal law; however, he would benefit from further education as to civil matters. Although the Tenth Judicial District Performance Commission does not believe case management to be a significant tool in evaluating a judge’s performance, it does seem that Judge Fieldman runs an efficient docket; however, he routinely interjects himself into the negotiating process and does not allow attorneys the time they feel they need to properly develop their cases.
The Commission has concerns about Judge Fieldman’s inappropriate relationship with law enforcement, his communication with litigants outside the courtroom and his participation in the social networking site Facebook. Lawyers and non-lawyers alike perceive Judge Fieldman as being biased towards the prosecution. Concerns have been raised about Judge Fieldman’s overly friendly manner when dealing with law enforcement, thus contributing to this perception. Consideration must be taken as to the propriety of communication with parties actively involved in cases in his courtroom. The Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit this type of communication; however, it does not seem that Judge Fieldman has acted accordingly. Furthermore, the Commission believes that Judge Fieldman needs to appreciate the seriousness of judicial proceedings and exercise proper decorum in the courtroom.
It is an elementary concept for a judge to avoid linking himself personally to individuals with whom maintaining a personal relationship would compromise the entire judiciary. Judge Fieldman actively maintained a Facebook account with numerous “friends” who are members of law enforcement, probation officers, members of the District Attorney’s Office, politicians and private attorneys who have and continue to litigate in his courtroom. There is no question that this is completely inappropriate. Judge Fieldman volunteered the information that he maintained a Facebook account and represented that he had not and would not accept law enforcement as friends on this site, and it has been demonstrated that this is simply not true. The Commission and public expect and are owed the truth. After a follow-up meeting, Judge Fieldman has realized that the nature of these relationships does create an improper appearance and has now limited his contacts to close personal friends and family. Judge Fieldman has agreed to an improvement plan to address the issues raised and has assured the Commission of his absolute commitment to perform his duties in a manner befitting the position he holds.