Eighteenth Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Peter F. Michaelson
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Peter F. Michaelson MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Michaelson was appointed to the District Court in 2015. His current docket includes criminal, domestic relations, and a small number of civil cases. Judge Michaelson earned his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Denver College of Law. Prior to his appointment, Judge Michaelson served as a part-time Custer County Court Judge and in private practice focusing on real estate, eminent domain, probate, municipal and special districts, estate planning, business formation and general civil litigation. Judge Michaelson also served as Deputy District Attorney and was later elected to two consecutive terms as District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District. Judge Michaelson believes community involvement is important, volunteering annually as a high school mock trial judge, serving as an officer with the Colorado District Judge’s Association, and presenting at continuing legal education trainings to support the legal profession and the community. The organizers of a recent continuing legal education program in which he participated expressed gratitude for his candid and honest guidance to lawyers and mental health professionals.
The Commission considered the Judge’s written self-evaluation, results from the 2018 Judicial Performance Survey of attorneys and non-attorneys who had been 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, and an interview with the Judge. The Commission also considered Judge Michaelson’s 2018 judicial caseload data and interim judicial performance survey reports from 2011, 2013, and 2014. The 2018 Judicial Performance Survey results reflected responses from 62 attorneys who completed the survey: 83% indicated that he meets performance standards, 10% indicated he does not meet performance standards, and 7% expressed no opinion. The 2018 survey results also reflect 63 non-attorney responses: 79% indicated that he meets performance standards, 15% indicated he does not meet performance standards, and 6% expressed no opinion.
The efficiency with which Judge Michaelson manages his docket and judicial caseload is worthy of praise. Judge Michaelson brings a strong sense that the authority of the Court should be respected, which sometimes is interpreted as overly stern or rude. While some attorneys, jurors, and litigants praised him for his calm and respectful demeanor, others noted certain examples of curtness and at times abrasive and arrogant behavior, as well as, a dismissive attitude towards the parties and issues before him. While the comments expressed significant concerns regarding demeanor, the Commission is satisfied that Judge Michaelson acknowledges the concerns and is actively working on the issues. The Commission was impressed by some of his scores, his diligence and willingness to work hard, his sound knowledge of the law and meticulously researched and well written legal opinions. Based on these findings, the Commission unanimously agreed that Judge Michaelson meets judicial performance standards.