Sixteenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Mark A. MacDonnell
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Sixteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends unanimously (9-0 with one recusal) that Chief Judge Mark A. MacDonnell BE RETAINED.
Judge MacDonnell was appointed to the District Court bench in 2014, after serving as a county court judge in Bent County since 1993. In addition to holding court in the three counties of the district, he performs the administrative duties of Chief Judge. He earned his undergraduate degree from Adams State College and Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado. In private practice he served as Bent and Crowley County Attorney and represented the Departments of Social Services of Bent, Crowley, and Prowers Counties as well as the City of Las Animas and several Special Districts. Judge MacDonnell has always been active in community service. In his current role, he finds time to serve his church and to mentor men at Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community.
The Commission considered the Judge’s written self-evaluation, results from the Judicial Performance Survey of attorneys and non-attorneys involved in proceedings in his courtroom, written decisions submitted by the Judge, courtroom observations by the Commissioners, input from representatives of the District Attorney and Public Defender’s offices, comments made during public hearings, and an interview with the Judge. The survey results reflect completed surveys from 18 attorneys: 78% recommended retention, 12% non-retention, and 11% made no recommendation. The completed survey results reflect 39 non-attorney responses: 89% recommended retention, 5% non-retention, and 5% made no recommendation. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.)
Judge MacDonnell’s calm, strong, and controlled demeanor on the bench is exemplary. He is patient with unrepresented litigants and ensures that the proceedings in his courtroom have an air of dignity and respect. In his written orders and rulings Judge MacDonnell uses clear and direct language to explain his rulings in a methodical and step-by-step analysis, giving weight to the arguments of each litigant. In criminal cases he shows great compassion to those he sentences, continually strives to use evidence-based sentencing, and always has words of encouragement for those he sentences. In his role as Chief Judge, he endeavors toward increasing the efficiency of the courts and the accessibility of the courts to all citizens. Toward that end, Judge MacDonnell will soon begin a specialty dependency and neglect court to assist unrepresented parties in dependency and neglect cases. The Commission on Judicial Performance was impressed with the humility of Judge MacDonnell and his willingness to accept and act upon constructive criticism. Throughout his career as an attorney, county court judge, and now as the Chief District Court Judge, Judge MacDonnell demonstrates a willingness to change, grow, and mature as legal practitioner and judge.