Fourteenth Judicial District - Moffat County Court Judge
Honorable Sandra H. Gardner
Retention Year: 2014
Retention Recommendation: The Fourteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends that Judge Sandra H. Gardner BE RETAINED.
Background: Judge Sandra Gardner was appointed Judge to the Moffat County Court in 2006. Judge Gardner received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College in 1985 and her Juris Doctorate from Emory University, Atlanta GA in 1991. Prior to her appointment to the bench Judge Gardner practiced as an attorney in Steamboat Springs, CO before moving on to solo practice in 1996. While in private practice Judge Gardner’s focus areas were civil and criminal cases, family law, and mediation as well as dependency and neglect cases. Judge Gardner presides over all County Court cases filed in Moffat County, which include Civil, Small Claims, Misdemeanor, Felony, Traffic Offense, and Traffic Infraction case types. She conducts bench and jury trials as needed.
Evaluation Methods: The Commission reviewed written evaluations of Judge Gardner from attorneys and non-attorneys, including verbatim comments attached to the evaluation questionnaires, as well as email correspondence regarding Judge Gardner. The Commission also considered a self-evaluation, orders and opinions written by Judge Gardner. Finally, members of the Commission personally observed Judge Gardner in her courtroom and conducted a face to face interview of her. Of all attorneys surveyed about retention, 93% recommended retention, 2% not to retain, and 6% made no recommendation regarding retention. Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 81% recommended retention, 10% not to retain, and 9% made no recommendation regarding retention. (These percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.) All of the groups surveyed had a sufficient response rate.
Performance: Judge Gardner demonstrates the ability to direct litigants representing themselves, keeping the process in the Courtroom moving forward in a timely manner. She keeps all parties informed, making sure they have a clear understanding of the process, particularly in cases involving minors. Additionally she maintains control of the courtroom, showing respect to both attorneys and self-represented litigants alike. Survey results showed overall Judge Gardner has good judicial temperament, is an analytical thinker and demonstrates the ability to handle the courtroom and people well, with a proven knowledge of the law. Judge Gardner received high ratings from both attorneys and non-attorneys in virtually every category of the survey, particularly in the areas of treating all parties equally and respectfully; being fair and impartial toward both sides; presenting herself as thoughtful, compassionate and conscientious; communicating clearly, thoroughly and in a well-reasoned manner. Judge Gardner also takes the opportunity to participate in Law Week, a program designed to educate high school students about the role of the courts and the different branches of government.