Second Judicial District - Denver County Court Judge
Honorable Clarisse Gonzales
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Second Judicial District on Judicial Performance agrees by a vote of 8-0, with two Commissioners absent from voting, that Judge Clarisse Gonzales MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Gonzales presides over a criminal docket in Denver County Court. Judge Gonzales meets all aspects of the performance criteria and writes in a clear, concise, and well-reasoned manner. Judge Gonzales is efficient and engaged in the courtroom with a professional and kind demeanor for which the Commission commends her. The Commission did not identify any evaluation category in which Judge Gonzales displayed a notable weakness. The Commission appreciates the thoughtfulness and self-reflection Judge Gonzales displayed in her self-evaluation and Commission members observed these qualities during its evaluation and interview.
The Commission met with the Presiding Judge of Denver County Court to discuss her interactions with Judge Gonzales, as well as with members of the Public Defender’s Office and Probation Department to discuss their impressions of Judge Gonzales’ performance. The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Gonzales, observed her during court proceedings, and reviewed decisions she authored, case management data, comments received from interested parties, and judicial performance survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys that self-reported they had sufficient interaction with Judge Gonzales in the courtroom to meaningfully respond. The surveys reflected personal opinions on Judge Gonzales’ Case Management, Application and Knowledge of Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness. Of the 18 attorneys and 18 non-attorneys who completed the survey and reported they had sufficient knowledge of Gonzales’ performance to evaluate her, 89% of the attorneys and71% of the non-attorneys believe that she meets performance standards. Judge Gonzales’ combined (attorney and non-attorney) survey scores are slightly above or equal to the statewide average among county court judges in the areas of Case Management, Application and Knowledge of Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness. As a result of procedural irregularities in the distribution of these surveys, the response rates for the 2022 survey were not as robust as compared to prior evaluation cycles. While the Commission used these survey results in its evaluation, limited weight was given to these survey results and the results were used in conjunction with several other tools to evaluate her performance. All data reviewed by the Commission supports the recommendation that Judge Gonzales be retained.
Mayor Hickenlooper appointed Judge Gonzales in January 2007. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado and her law degree from Howard University School of Law. Prior to her appointment she worked as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a legal advocate for abused and neglected children, and a District Court Magistrate. Judge Gonzales is passionate about community service as reflected in her volunteer service, mentorship, and her creation of the Judicial Outsight Group, which coordinates public service opportunities for judicial officers and brings awareness to, and seeks to improve, mental health in the legal field. In 2015, she received the Judicial Excellence Award from the Colorado Judicial Institute.