First Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Stephen M. Munsinger
Retention Year: 2010
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a unanimous vote that Judge Stephen M. Munsinger BE RETAINED.
Judge Munsinger was appointed to the District Court in 2001. Before his appointment to the court, Judge Munsinger was a state and federal prosecutor and in private practice for many years. He states in his self-evaluation and in comments during his interview with the Commission that involvement outside the courtroom that does not involve the wearing of a robe helps to remind judges of who they are, and how they fit in the grand scheme of things. His commitment to community service is exemplified by his leadership in numerous nonprofit organizations in the metro area.
Judge Munsinger scored above average in every category in which he was rated and well above the average for all judges surveyed. Comments received from both attorneys and non-attorneys stated that he was well prepared, articulate, compassionate, caring, fair, smart and an excellent listener. His demeanor on the bench was deemed especially strong. Judge Munsinger has the reputation of making everyone feel comfortable in his courtroom. He states that he promotes equal treatment and justice for everyone, whether or not they are represented by counsel. This behavior was verified in survey comments and by visits to the courtroom by commission members.
There were very few weaknesses identified. While some attorneys thought he had a prosecution bias, some non-attorneys suggested he might be too nice. After addressing these concerns with the judge during our interview with him, the Commission was satisfied that these were not significant weaknesses. When asked how he likes his job, Judge Munsinger stated that he has enjoyed every aspect of being a judge, and the people he works with are some of the best, most professional and most committed to justice that he has ever known.
In the process of this performance review, the Commission interviewed Judge Munsinger, assessed the effectiveness of written courtroom decisions, read his self-evaluation, made unannounced courtroom visits and considered survey data from attorneys and non-attorneys. Judge Munsinger received one of the highest retention percentages (91%) from the attorneys surveyed and (95%) from the non-attorneys surveyed. The culmination of all these findings is a unanimous recommendation by the Commission that Judge Stephen M. Munsinger BE RETAINED.