Eighteenth Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Bonnie Heather McLean
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Bonnie Heather McLean MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge McLean was appointed as a District Court Judge in the Eighteenth Judicial District in January 2014. Judge McLean was born and raised in the Denver and graduated from the University of Colorado in three years before attending the University of Denver Law School. Graduating in 2000, she became a Deputy District Attorney in the 18th Judicial District, where she soon rose to Senior Deputy DA in charge of the Juvenile Unit. McLean was appointed a magistrate in 2006 and in 2010 moved to the Juvenile Delinquency Division. In 2011 she helped develop the 18th District first Drug Court and later took over the District’s mental health courts. In 2012 she won the Judicial Officer of the Year award from the State of Colorado and the 2012 Magistrate of the Year award from the Colorado Judicial Institute.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge McLean, reviewed opinions she authored, observed her in court, reviewed comments received from interested parties, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge McLean. Among the survey questions was, "based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge McLean meets judicial performance standards?" Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 85% answered yes, meets performance standards, 8% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 7% had no opinion regarding whether Judge McLean meets or does not meet performance standards. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 80% answered yes, meets performance standards, 16% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 4% had no opinion regarding whether Judge McLean meets or does not meet performance standards. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding). Sixty-four attorneys and fifty-one non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys expressing their opinions of Judge McLean’s performance.
Judge McLean may be one of the hardest working judges in Arapahoe County. Judge McLean presides over the specialty courts which include Truancy Court, Veterans Court, Mental Health Court, Recovery Court, ACE Court and Domestic Court. She is described as caring, sensitive, empathetic, compassionate, smart, fair and knowledgeable of the law. Her weakness, based upon the evaluations, seems to be leaving the parties with a sense of being hurried and therefore not being allowed to present their case. There were also concerns expressed regarding the clarity of the Court’s orders. Judge McLean takes these comments to heart and has implemented a new system for hearing domestic matters, which should allow the parties more time to present their cases fully. Judge McLean’s legal opinions reflect her extensive knowledge and understanding of the law. Based on these findings, the Commission unanimously agreed that Judge McLean meets judicial performance standards.