Thirteenth Judicial District - Kit Carson County Judge
Honorable Michael K. Grinnan
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Thirteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously agrees (8-0, with two members absent) that Judge Michael K. Grinnan MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Grinnan has been the County Court Judge in Kit Carson County since January of 2007. He also serves as District Court Magistrate for the Thirteenth Judicial District (since July 2016) and City Attorney for the City of Burlington (since 2006). Because these are all part-time positions, Judge Grinnan continues to maintain a private law practice, as he has since 1996. Judge Grinnan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Fort Lewis College in 1990 and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver in 1993.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Grinnan, reviewed a sampling of his written rulings, observed him in court, and reviewed comments and responses from a survey of individuals familiar with Judge Grinnan. Of those who completed the survey, 16 attorney and 25 non-attorney respondents indicated that they had worked with him enough to evaluate his performance. When asked if Judge Grinnan meets performance standards, the responses were as follows: of attorneys, 94% said “yes” and 6% said “no”; of non-attorneys, 72% said “yes”, 16% said “no”, and 12% had “no opinion”.
Judge Grinnan’s County Court docket consists of primarily of traffic, misdemeanor, and civil matters, as well as a small number of criminal and small claims matters. Overall, the Commission found that Judge Grinnan meets or exceeds performance standards. Attorneys rated Judge Grinnan higher than the statewide average for County Court judges in nearly every category except communications (case management, application and knowledge of the law, demeanor, diligence). Non-attorneys, however, rated Judge Grinnan lower than the statewide average in every category, although, for the most part, those scores were still within an acceptable range. Judge Grinnan’s lowest scores from non-attorneys were in the areas of on beginning court on time, diligence, and giving reasons for rulings. Survey comments also raised these issues. During his interview with the Commission, Judge Grinnan discussed the challenges that serving in the dual roles of both County Court Judge and District Court Magistrate has presented with respect to coordinating travel (both his own and that of traveling attorneys who also serve throughout the District) and scheduling. It is not surprising that the transition into this new role would involve some growing pains. It appears to the Commission that the Judge was proactive in identifying solutions and making adjustments as necessary to navigate this change, and that things seem to have improved. With that said, survey comments also overwhelmingly praised Judge Grinnan’s demeanor and temperament, describing him as friendly, fair, and compassionate. Judge Grinnan was also praised for his ability to deal with parties who do not have an attorney, which is a challenge for most judges. Observations confirmed those impressions. Overall, the Commission is left with the impression that Judge Grinnan is well liked by court staff, attorneys, and parties who appear in his courtroom and unanimously agrees that Judge Grinnan meets performance standards.