Fifteenth Judicial District - Prowers County Court Judge
Honorable George W. McLachlan
Retention Year: 1994
Judge McLachlan, age 70, graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1953. Judge McLachlan served as District Judge from 1957 through 1964. In addition to his duties on the bench, Judge McLachlan maintains a private general practice in Lamar, Colorado.
Judge McLachlan was appointed Prowers County Judge in January 1988. He was retained in the 1990 retention election. State law requires Judge McLachlan’s retirement in October 1995.
Judge McLachlan’s caseload consists primarily of traffic cases, including DUIs and less serious traffic offenses. The court also handles small claims and civil cases in which the amount in controversy is less than $10,000.00, as well as misdemeanor cases. For 1993, Judge McLachlan’s court handled over 2,062 traffic cases, 178 misdemeanors, and 325 small claims and civil cases. Judge McLachlan’s court convenes every weekday, and the position is considered an 80 to 85% full-time position.
The Commission received numerous survey responses from attorneys, litigants, court staff and law enforcement. The committee also conducted an interview with Judge McLachlan on June 9, 1994, during which he answered questions candidly and openly.
Overall Judge McLachlan rated highly in areas concerning compassion and knowledge of the law. However, common complaints from respondents raise the concern that Judge McLachlan sometimes lacks patience with litigants and attorneys, and is perceived as discourteous. The commission finds that there may be some validity to the complaints since even generally favorable responses include criticism of Judge McLachlan’s courtroom demeanor. While the commission recommends that Judge McLachlan address demeanor issues, the commission feels that the problems does not hinder justice in the Prowers County Court. Judge McLachlan expressed a willingness to correct any problems, and the commission is confident Judge McLachlan can and will address the criticism.
In his self-evaluation, Judge McLachlan admitted the problem with timely rulings on motions. Again, the committee finds the problem does not impede justice in the overall administration of the Prowers County Court, and Judge McLachlan has promised to take appropriate action to correct any deficiencies.
Judge McLachlan discussed with candor the perception that there may be inconsistent sentencing in relation to traffic and misdemeanor cases. Upon inquiry into specific situations, the commission members are satisfied that sentencing is handled in a just and proper way, and that Judge McLachlan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the bench when considering sentencing.
While the commission is aware of, and seriously considered, the above mentioned weaknesses, the Fifteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance is impressed with Judge McLachlan’s dedication, hard work, high ethical standards and skills he brings to the Prowers County Court, and recommends that Judge McLachlan BE RETAINED.