Fourth Judicial District - El Paso County Court Judge
Honorable Sam Burney
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Fourth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance voted 5 to 0 (with 5 absent) that Judge Sam Burney 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 Burney’s docket includes 10% civil and 90% criminal. Judge Burney is described as kind, intelligent, professional, patient, and has a great sense of humor. She is knowledgeable about the law and continues to work to continually improve. Judge Burney was observed by numerous members of the Commission and was shown to treat all people in her court with respect and kindness that is needed to thoroughly get to the truth. Since her appointment, Judge Burney has taken multiple Continuing Legal Education credits to improve Judicial Writing, Knowledge of the Law and also sought mentors to help her improve as a newly appointed judge. Judge Burney’s written work was well done, and it should be noted she engaged with the whole District 4 judiciary to develop a guiding opinion that could be used for future decisions. Judge Burney prioritizes community service where she works with youth in her church and in schools serving underserved populations. She is active with outside agencies and courthouse committees committed to increasing diversity and access in the legal community. In addition to the variety of El Paso County Bar Association’s and Colorado Bar Association’s committees, she serves as a foster parent for both long-term and short-term placements.
Judge Burney’s overall combined performance score on the 2022 Judicial Performance Survey was 3.6 out of 4.0, higher than the average score of 3.4 for all County Court Judges. It should be noted that 100% of attorneys and 83% of non-attorneys stated that Judge Burney meets judicial performance standards. It is unusual to see a 100% score for any judge, but all 25 attorneys stated she meets performance standards. In nearly all categories Judge Burney scored 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale, with high scores of 3.8 in fairness and case management. The Commission interviewed Judge Burney, observed her in Court, and reviewed her self-evaluation, written opinions, judicial performance data, comments from attorneys and non-attorneys, and the judicial performance survey results from 2022. The Commission spoke with representatives of the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office.
Judge Burney was appointed by Governor Polis to the El Paso County Court bench in April of 2020. Judge Burney’s first day on the bench was June 20, 2020, in the midst of the George Floyd turmoil and COVID pandemic. Judge Burney is a graduate of California Western School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from University of Denver. Prior to her appointment, Judge Burney practiced criminal law, insurance defense, and compliance law.