Second Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Eric M. Johnson
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance agrees by a vote of 7-2, with one Commissioner absent from voting, that Judge Eric M. Johnson MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS. The Colorado statutory judicial performance standards are integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, and service to the legal profession and the public.
Judge Johnson presently presides over a criminal docket and previously presided over a civil docket. Judge Johnson meets all aspects of the performance criteria. Judge Johnson is described as a promising, energetic judge who tries to make his courtroom welcoming and comfortable. Commission members observed these qualities during their evaluation and interview. Some Commissioners were concerned that Judge Johnson’s efforts went too far and made people in his courtroom uncomfortable. For the cases open on Judge Johnson’s docket as of April 2022, Judge Johnson did not meet the court’s benchmark for completing 90% of cases within 12 months; Judge Johnson had 17% of cases open after 12 months.
The Commission met with the Chief Judge of Denver District Court regarding Judge Johnson’s performance, as well as with members of the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, and Probation Department. The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Johnson and observed him during court proceedings. It also reviewed opinions he authored, comments received from interested parties during the evaluation, recordings from his courtroom, case management data, and judicial performance survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys that interacted with him. The surveys reflected personal opinions on Judge Johnson’s Case Management, Application and Knowledge of the Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness. Of the 57 attorneys and 44 non-attorneys who completed the survey and reported they had sufficient knowledge of Judge Johnson’s performance to evaluate him, 50% of the attorneys and 93% of the non-attorneys believe that Judge Johnson met performance standards. Judge Johnson’s combined (attorney and non-attorney) survey scores are below average for district court judges in all categories. Judge Johnson received many negative comments. The Commission recognized Judge Johnson has responded to this feedback with self-reflection and has already taken several steps to seek mentoring and learning tools to improve his demeanor. Judge Johnson received a rating slightly below the statewide average for district court judges from the 15 appellate judges who evaluated his performance. While the Commission used these survey results in its evaluation, this evaluation tool was used in conjunction with several others to evaluate his performance. The Commission hopes and expects Judge Johnson to show significant improvement at his next review. The overall data reviewed by the Commission supports the recommendation that Judge Johnson be retained.
Governor Polis appointed Judge Johnson in May 2019. He earned undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his law degree from Tulane Law School. Judge Johnson previously served in the U.S. Air Force, as a Deputy District Attorney in the 17th and 1st Judicial Districts, and in private practice, specializing in immigration. Judge Johnson gives back to the Denver community and the legal community through his active participation in outdoor groups, local bar associations, and his Inn of Court.