Second Judicial District - Denver County Court Judge
Honorable Tanya E. Wheeler
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 Tanya E. Wheeler MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Wheeler presides over a civil docket in Denver County Court and previously presided over a felony advisement and traffic docket. Judge Wheeler meets all aspects of the judicial performance criteria and writes and communicates in a clear, concise, and well-reasoned manner. Her demeanor is described in survey results as bright and compassionate, and she handles challenging situations with efficiency and professionalism. She allows time for people in her courtroom to explain their positions and understand her reasoning for her rulings. Commission members observed these qualities during their evaluation and interview.
The Commission met with the Presiding Judge of Denver County Court to discuss her interactions with Judge Wheeler, as well as with members of the Public Defender’s Office and Probation Department, to discuss their impressions of Judge Wheeler’s performance. The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Wheeler, 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 Wheeler in the courtroom to meaningfully respond. The surveys reflected personal opinions on Judge Wheeler’s Case Management, Application and Knowledge of the Law, Communications, Diligence, Demeanor, and Fairness. Of the two attorneys and 11 non-attorneys who completed the survey and reported they had sufficient knowledge of Judge Wheeler’s performance to evaluate her, 100% of the attorneys and 89% of the non-attorneys believe that she meets performance standards. Judge Wheeler’s combined (attorney and non-attorney) survey scores are at or above average for county court judges in the categories of Case Management and Demeanor. Judge Wheeler’s survey scores were substantially higher than the average for county court judges in the areas of Communications and Fairness. Judge Wheeler 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 Wheeler be retained.
Mayor Hancock appointed Judge Wheeler, a Denver native, in March 2020. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. Judge Wheeler earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After graduating law school and returning to Denver, Judge Wheeler began practicing law in the areas of domestic relations and commercial litigation. In 2010, Judge Wheeler joined the Colorado Attorney General’s Office as a First Assistant Attorney General in the Human Services Unit of the State Services Section.