First Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Dennis J. Hall
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a vote of 8 to 1 that Judge Dennis J. Hall BE RETAINED.
Judge Hall was appointed to the District Court in 2007. Prior to his appointment as a District Judge, he served as a Deputy District Attorney for the First Judicial District. Judge Hall does not participate in any community service activities outside his service as a judicial officer. The Commission, in its prior performance evaluation of Judge Hall, addressed its concerns regarding his lack of engaging in community service activities. Judge Hall now reports that he is not engaged in community service because he spends his time performing judicial functions and he has no time left for community service.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Hall, reviewed opinions he authored, observed him in court, and reviewed surveys sent to attorneys and non-attorneys. Among the survey questions was “how strongly do you recommend that Judge Hall be retained in office, or not be retained in office?” 61% of attorneys completing the survey recommended retention while 87% of non-attorneys completing the survey recommended retention.
Judge Hall presides over a mixed docket and handles civil matters, domestic matters, and criminal matters. Judge Hall enjoys a reputation for being a hard working judicial officer who has a thorough grasp of the most complex legal issues. He is well respected by his peers, he has the heaviest caseload of the District Court Judges in the First Judicial District, and he has developed valuable expertise in grand jury proceedings and reviewing wiretap applications. In addition to managing his regular docket, he presides over the district court docket in Gilpin County. Judge Hall works long hours, including weekends, to prepare for his dockets. However, Judge Hall’s many positive contributions to the judiciary are, to a significant extent, overshadowed by persistent complaints among attorneys about his less than complimentary demeanor and judicial temperament on the bench. Attorneys rated him considerably below average in this regard while non-attorneys rated him slightly above average. The Commission noted in its prior evaluation of Judge Hall that it was troubled by comments about his judicial demeanor on the bench. The Commission continues to be concerned. The characterizations of Judge Hall’s demeanor range from “professional” and “fair and respectful to all people” to having a less than “judicial temperament,” having a horrible demeanor towards all parties, to being condescending and belittling. The Commission is deeply troubled by these reports and the perception that Judge Hall has largely ignored the concerns the Commission expressed in its prior report. Judge Hall responded to these concerns that he is committed to holding the attorneys who appear in front of him to a high standard and that his putting attorneys on the spot when their work falls below those standards may give rise to a perception that he treats them unfairly.