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Kochenburger, John 1998 Evaluation


Eighth Judicial District - Larimer County Court Judge

Honorable John E. Kochenburger

Retention Year: 1998
Recommendation: Retain


The Eighth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge John E. Kochenburger BE RETAINED. The decision was not unanimous.

Judge Kochenburger was appointed as Larimer County Judge in 1984 following private practice in the Fort Collins/Loveland area for more than 26 years. Prior to his appointment, he served 9 months as a domestic relations referee. His court handles civil proceedings for amounts under $10,000, traffic violations and misdemeanors. He is currently assigned to the Loveland division after 13 years in the Fort Collins branch. In 1997 there were 5,733 cases assigned to Judge Kochenburger of which 28% were civil and the balance criminal or traffic cases. Judge Kochenburger's decisions were not reversed in any of the ten cases appealed between 1996 and 1998. He has been active in the computerization of legal research in the County Courts and planning for the new Loveland Courthouse.

Law enforcement personnel responded positively to 19 of 23 questions regarding performance, fairness, diligence and sentencing. Jurors questioned were unanimously favorable. Attorneys ranked the Judge above 50% on only 12 of 33 questions. Concerns were noted in the areas of judicial demeanor, economic status fairness, bias from personal background, clearness of communications, patience, correctness of legal decisions, sentencing mitigation consideration, fear of public criticism and influence from non-court communications. Written comments reflected the concerns shown in the attorneys' response but also contained high praise for sensitivity to the people who appear before the judge.

Prior commissions commented on the appearance of gender bias and courtroom demeanor. The judge was interviewed by the Commission. The Commission finds these concerns are being adequately addressed.

Written evaluations were requested from a random sample of attorneys, court employees, law enforcement personnel, jurors, litigants, crime victims and other constituents who have been involved in proceedings in the judge's court. Surveys were designed and results compiled by an independent agency to provide confidentiality. Results from crime victims and litigants were unreliable due to insufficient responses.

Law enforcement personnel retention/non-retention recommendations were not provided. Court personnel responses were insufficient for analysis. Jurors recommended retention by 100% and non-retention by 0%. Lawyers recommended retention by 61.5% and non-retention by 38.5%.

Retention is recommended in recognition of the judge's contributions to the community, renewed energy, interest, and vigor following the assignment to Loveland, CO.