Eighteenth Judicial District - Arapahoe County Judge
Honorable Kelly LaFave
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance agreed by a vote of 7-3 that Judge Kelly LaFave MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge LaFave was appointed as an Arapahoe County Court judge in the Eighteenth Judicial District in May of 2016. Judge LaFave received her undergraduate degree in Economics from Arizona State University in 1988 and her law degree from Arizona State University in 1991. After clerking for a District Court Judge in Reno, Nevada, she became a Deputy County Attorney in Pima County Arizona. She was also a Special Agent for the FBI and a Deputy District Attorney in Denton County, Texas. Once in Colorado, she became a Senior Deputy District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District. She has coached mock trials for high school students and has judged numerous competitions. She now presides at the Littleton courthouse.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge LaFave, reviewed opinions she authored, observed her in court, reviewed comments received from interested parties during the evaluation, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge LaFave. Among the survey questions was, "based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge LaFave meets judicial performance standards?" Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 53% answered yes, meets performance standards, 40% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 7% had no opinion regarding whether Judge LaFave meets or does not meet performance standards. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 64% answered yes, meets performance standards, 24% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 12% had no opinion regarding whether Judge LaFave meets or does not meet performance standards. A total of sixteen (16) attorneys and forty (40) non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys expressing their opinions of Judge LaFave’s performance.
Judge LaFave presides over a civil and small claims docket where the amount in controversy is under $15,000. The vast majority of Judge LaFave’s cases involve litigants who do not have an attorney. Based on the Commission's overall evaluation, Judge LaFave has demonstrated she meets most performance standards. Attorneys responding to the surveys rated Judge LaFave’s overall performance lower than non-attorneys and rated Judge LaFave’s performance in "Demeanor," “Promptly issuing decisions,” Application and knowledge of the law,” “Communications,” and “Diligence,” lower than other categories. The Commission did not observe any of these issues during its courtroom observations. The Commission discussed concerns raised in attorney surveys regarding Judge LaFave’s demeanor and judicial temperament. Judge LaFave acknowledged these concerns. The Commission agrees Judge LaFave’s written legal opinions require more detail. Judge LaFave is a new judge and the Commission feels she is aware of these deficiencies and will work to improve them. Her performance should improve with experience and time. Based on these findings, the Commission by a vote of 7-3 agree that Judge LaFave meets judicial performance standards.