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Nickell, Betty 2002 Evaluation


Seventh Judicial District - Montrose County Court Judge

Honorable Betty Raye Nickell

Retention Year: 2002
Recommendation: Retain

The Seventh Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Bette Raye Nickell BE RETAINED.

The position of Montrose County Associate Court Judge is part-time and the court serves the west-end of Montrose County. Judge Nickell is a lay judge (non-attorney). She is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a Masters degree from Western State College. She had a career in education and retired as a superintendent of schools before being appointed to the bench in December of 1999.

Judge Nickell’s workload consists of traffic cases, a small number of criminal proceedings, including felony preliminary hearings and civil actions. Judge Nickell, aside from her work on the bench, also serves on the boards for the Uncompahgre Clinic and the Wright Stuff Foundation and speaks to students in the schools of both Nucla and Norwood.

Judge Nickell believes that she listens carefully and does not prejudge. She has strong people skills and goes out of her way to make sure everyone has been heard. She has great respect for the judicial system and believes that others will share her respect if they respect her as a judge. She is willing to learn and is not afraid to ask for advice from other judges. She considers her lack of experience and legal background as her weaknesses. Judge Nickell’s goals for the next year are to attend as many conferences and workshops as possible to gain additional legal knowledge, continue working with local agencies to develop the resources that are needed for the local area and spend more time reading legal materials. She describes her learning curve of being a new lay judge as "straight up."

The Commission believes she has the proper judicial temperament and the willingness and ability to overcome any obstacles presented by her lack of prior formal legal training.
The Commission conducted public hearings, interviews with attorneys and non-attorneys, a personal interview with the judge and reviewed her self-evaluation. The survey response
from local attorneys was too small for credible analysis. Of the non-attorneys, 76% recommended retention. The Commission is pleased with and supportive of Judge Nickell’s performance. The Commission recommends that Montrose County Associate Court Judge Nickell be retained.