Colorado Court of Appeals
Honorable Elizabeth L. Harris
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The State Commission on Judicial Performance finds that Judge Elizabeth L. Harris MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS, by a vote of 6 to 3. The judicial performance standards are: integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, and service to the legal profession and the public.
Judge Harris joined the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2015. She received a B.A. from Georgetown University and her Juris Doctorate from New York University in 1996. She clerked for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, was a federal public defender from 1997 to 2003, and then worked in private practice. She is on the board of directors of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Foundation, is a member of the Doyle Inn of Court, and prepares University of Denver law school students for oral argument competitions.
The Commission interviewed Judge Harris, read a selection of her legal opinions, observed her in court, reviewed her self-evaluation, and considered survey responses from attorneys and judges. One survey question asked whether Judge Harris met judicial performance standards. Of the attorneys who responded to that question, 65% answered yes, 12% answered no, and 23% had no opinion. Of the judges who responded to that question, 90% answered yes and 10% answered no. A total of 35 attorneys and 21 judges completed the survey.
Judge Harris has been on the bench for nearly three years, and this is her first retention review. She received high scores for her preparation and equal treatment of parties regardless of background or ethnicity. She received low marks for making decisions based on the law and facts and also for reaching issues that need not be decided. The Commission agrees that Judge Harris at times reaches issues that she need not decide. Sometimes she unnecessarily reexamines facts and lower courts’ reasoning, which reduces her efficiency and which may create a perception that she is unfair. Lack of timeliness also has been a problem for Judge Harris, although she has shown substantial improvement. She recognizes these issues and is taking concrete steps to address these areas of concern. Judge Harris demonstrates strong writing skills, diligence, and a commitment to fairness.