Fourth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Frances R. Johnson
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Fourth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance voted 7-0 with 3 absent that Judge Frances R. 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 Frances Johnson presides over domestic relations (50% of caseload) and criminal (50% of caseload) matters in El Paso County, Colorado. Judge Johnson is described as being hardworking, knowledgeable, compassionate, professional, practical and fair. She is not afraid of taking on complex issues and has handled her docket transition with grace and fortitude. She is decisive in her judgments and is able to deliver rulings in a manner that is factual, not harsh, but firm. Judge Johnson is considered a good listener. She takes arguments and evidence from both sides and then applies the law. Commission members observed these qualities during their evaluation and interview. Judge Johnson’s opinions reflect her knowledge of the law and a clear, concise communication style.
The decision was based on survey results, a self-evaluation, submission of written rulings and interviews with the Chief Judge, and the leaders of both the Public Defender’s Office the District Attorney’s Office, and an interview with the Commission members. In addition, multiple Commissioners personally visited her courtroom to observe proceedings. A total of fifty-eight attorneys and fifty-two non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys expressing their opinion of Judge Johnson. 82% of attorneys and 71% of non-attorneys surveyed stated that Judge Johnson “meets performance standards.” Judge Johnson received consistently favorable survey scores (out of 4.0 on scale) in the categories of case management, application and knowledge of law, communication, demeanor and fairness. In particular, attorney-respondents indicated that Judge Johnson promptly issued decisions after trial (3.8/4.0); maintained appropriate control over proceedings (3.6/4.0); made sure all participants understood proceedings (3.7/4.0); gave proceedings a sense of dignity (3.7/4.0); and, treated participants with respect (3.8/4.0.) In her self-evaluation, Judge Johnson expressed a dedication to becoming increasingly competent in the areas of law relevant to her docket.
Frances Johnson became a judicial officer in 2013, serving as a county court magistrate. She was appointed to the District Court in January 2020. She graduated from the University of Colorado in 1994 and received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1997. Prior to becoming a jurist, Judge Johnson worked as an assistant attorney general, juvenile public defender, municipal prosecutor, civil litigator, and guardian ad litem. Judge Johnson acknowledges the importance of community involvement to her role as a judge. She is actively engaged in the community. She serves on the boards of the El Paso County Board Association and the Colorado Bar Foundation, as well as with the local Inclusion Collaborative and the Judicial Wellbeing Committee. She regularly presents at continuing legal education (CLE) events and participates in local mentorship efforts.