Tenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Jill S. Mattoon
Retention Year: 2010
Recommendation: Do Not Retain
The Tenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Jill S. Mattoon NOT BE RETAINED. It was the 8-1 decision of our Commission, with one member recusing, that Judge Jill S. Mattoon not be retained.
Judge Mattoon received the lowest evaluation scores in our District and she was significantly below the state average in all five evaluated categories. Her overall “do not retain” recommendation was twice the state average. Judge Mattoon was appointed to the Pueblo District Court in November 2006. Her previous experience had been for seven years as an administrative hearing officer primarily in workers compensation matters. Prior to that she had been in private practice for six years and before that eight years with then District Attorney Sandstrom. The Commission carefully reviewed all of her state provided survey results, her submitted written decisions, self-evaluation, appellate rulings, interviews with various agency representatives, observed her in her courtroom and conducted a personal interview.
Protection of our rights is the primary role of our judges and it requires knowledge of many different aspects of law. The Commission recognizes that no one lawyer can possibly come to the bench with all that necessary knowledge. Despite her years of varied experience, the Commission finds Judge Mattoon’s lack of basic legal knowledge disconcerting and problematic. She simply has not demonstrated many of the qualities that this Commission believes our community has a right to expect of our district court judges. Our judges should recognize the need to learn, have the ability to learn and then vigorously and fairly apply the law in the process of making the necessary findings of fact and conclusions upon which their judgments are based. Judge Mattoon’s state survey results show not only insufficient demonstration of these qualities but that her scores are decreasing. In her written self-evaluation Judge Mattoon informed the Commission that she researches and writes her own decisions but during the interview acknowledged that in contested matters her decisions are the result of suggested orders submitted by counsel.
The Court of Appeals has twice reversed Judge Mattoon’s orders and sent back to her cases because she failed to make required rulings. This neglect is the kind of failure that has significant impact on the litigating parties. Judge Mattoon does not voluntarily recuse herself from situations which present an obvious conflict of interest. The Commission is extremely concerned that Judge Mattoon demonstrates little introspective interest or willingness to discuss constructive criticism. It does not appear that Judge Mattoon is willing to acknowledge her weaknesses or, if she has the ability to do so, to expend any effort to improve her performance.
The information and survey results available to the Commission show that Judge Mattoon’s below average performance is not improving and we believe we would be remiss in our responsibility if we found her service to be acceptable.
Judge Jill S. Mattoon’s Response: It’s a privilege to serve Pueblo’s citizens, protecting the rights of crime victims, those accused of crimes, and vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens in probate cases. I decide cases based on facts and law, without fear of criticism or unpopularity. The Commission disregarded the overall presumptive “retain” score on my performance survey results. This Commission includes: the Pueblo Public Defender’s office chief, the State Public Defender’s spouse, a Public Defender’s spouse and former Public Defender, a retired Public Defender investigator, a criminal defense attorney, and no law enforcement representatives. I respect and welcome constructive criticism, striving to improve every day.