Second Judicial District - Denver County Court Judge
Honorable Michelle Martinez-Thomas
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously agrees by a vote of 9-0, with one Commissioner absent from voting, that Judge Michelle Martinez-Thomas MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Martinez-Thomas presides over a criminal docket in Denver County Court. Judge Martinez-Thomas meets all aspects of the judicial performance criteria. Her demeanor is described in survey results as well-prepared, fair, kind and patient in the courtroom. The management of her courtroom is described as highly efficient and professional. Commission members observed these qualities during their evaluation and interview.
The Commission met with the Presiding Judge of the Denver County Court, as well as with members of the Public Defender’s Office and Probation Department, to discuss their impressions of Judge Martinez-Thomas’ performance. The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Martinez-Thomas, 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 the Judge in the courtroom to meaningfully respond. The surveys reflected personal opinions on Judge Martinez-Thomas’ Case Management, Application and Knowledge of the Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness. Of the five attorneys and 17 non-attorneys who completed the survey and reported they had sufficient knowledge of Judge Martinez-Thomas’ performance to evaluate her, 100% of the attorneys and 75% of the non-attorneys believe that Judge Martinez-Thomas meets performance standards. Judge Martinez-Thomas’ combined (attorney and non-attorney) survey scores are above average for county court judges in the categories of Case Management, Communications, Demeanor, Fairness and on average for Application and Knowledge of the Law. Judge Martinez-Thomas received nearly all positive comments submitted by attorneys and non-attorneys who interacted with her. 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. The overall data reviewed by the Commission supports the recommendation that Judge Martinez-Thomas be retained.
Mayor Hancock appointed Judge Martinez-Thomas, a Denver native, in March 2020. Judge Martinez-Thomas attended community college as a first-generation college student. She earned her undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and her law degree from the University of Denver. Previously, Judge Martinez-Thomas worked for the Colorado State Public Defender for 10 years. She was then appointed as a Magistrate in the 17th Judicial District where she oversaw criminal, protection orders, and domestic relations cases. Judge Martinez-Thomas was once the recipient of the Outstanding New Hispanic Lawyer award from the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. She was twice appointed to the Denver Mayor's Latino Advisory Council and interned for the Colorado Attorney General's office and for a United States Senator in Washington, D.C. Judge Martinez-Thomas serves as a board member for the Colorado State University Foundation.