Colorado Court of Appeals
Honorable Robert D. Hawthorne
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The State Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a vote of 8 to 0, with two recusals, that Judge Robert D. Hawthorne BE RETAINED.
Judge Hawthorne was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals on August 12, 2005. He received his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in 1970 and his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1973. Judge Hawthorne practiced law for over 30 years, served in the United States Army Reserves, and as District 11 Commissioner for the Colorado Department of Transportation. He is a graduate of the Colorado Institute for Faculty Excellence in Judicial Education. Judge Hawthorne is Chair of the Professionalism Working Group, a subcommittee of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professional Development. He is an active member of the Colorado and Denver Bar Association’s Professionalism Coordinating Council and participates in the Colorado Access to Justice program. He devotes time to numerous professional and educational activities to benefit adults as well as students at all grade levels.
The Commission evaluated Judge Hawthorne’s performance through diverse means, including opinions he has authored, observations in the courtroom and a Courts in the Community program, survey responses from attorneys and judges, his self-evaluation, and a personal interview. One survey question was “how strongly do you recommend that Judge Hawthorne be retained or not be retained in office?” Of attorneys completing the survey 84% recommended to retain, 5% recommended not to retain, and 11% made no recommendation. Of judges completing the survey 91% recommended to retain, 3% not to retain, and 6% made no recommendation regarding retention.
Attorney survey responses gave him an overall score above average among other appellate judges. The Commission is pleased Judge Hawthorne responded positively to its 2008 recommendation that he pursue a writing improvement plan. His attorney survey scores for writing are average. Judges rank him slightly below average on his writing. Judge Hawthorne in his self-evaluation indicated that he strives to refine his opinion writing skills. Judge Hawthorne received a stronger than average attorney survey response on his fairness and impartiality, courtesy, and allowing attorneys to present their cases. The Commission was impressed by the level of his preparation, the manner of his questions, and his general demeanor in oral argument. We agree with Judge Hawthorne that his writing can still become better with further training. The Commission commends his efforts to educate the community about the Colorado judiciary.