Fourth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Catherine Diane Mitchell Helton
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Fourth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously agrees by a vote of 8-0 (with two absent) that Judge Catherine Diane Mitchell Helton 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 Mitchell Helton presides over Domestic Relations and Criminal cases in El Paso County, Colorado. Her Criminal docket replaced a Civil docket beginning in August 2021. Her courtroom demeanor is described as calm, compassionate but firm, and respectful. During Domestic Relations cases, she is child-centric in ruling and focuses on parental harmony during contentious issues. She has strong knowledge of the rules of evidence and family law having practiced in that area. She carefully considers professional recommendations when making family welfare rulings and commits to explain her reasoning to litigants. Any appearance of gender bias is being remediated by implicit bias training and an awareness to fully explain decisions to parties. Her opinions are well-reasoned and follow the law. She handles high conflict cases appropriately and is well prepared for court. She currently has several homicide cases set for trial.
Data gathered for this evaluation includes a personal interview with Judge Mitchell Helton, review of her self-evaluation and opinions she wrote, court observations, interviews with the Public Defender and District Attorney offices, and an analysis of judicial performance survey results from attorneys and non-attorneys who interact with her in court. Among the survey questions was, “Do you think Judge Mitchell Helton meets judicial performance standards?” Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 93% answered yes, 7% answered no, and 0 had no opinion. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 59% answered yes, 32% answered no, and 9% had no opinion. A total of thirty-one attorneys and twenty-six non-attorneys responded to her judicial performance survey.
Judge Mitchell Helton received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Mount Saint Vincent University, and her law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2000. She was a Deputy District Attorney from 2000 to 2003, and in private practice from 2003 to 2019 specializing in criminal, domestic relations, juvenile and civil matters. She served as Magistrate from January 2019 through May 2020 before appointment to the 4th Judicial District Court Bench. She serves the community in many volunteer positions, especially in the schools. She was on the Board of Directors for Colorado Springs Teen Court (now Forge Evolution) and continues to serve them. She presents at the middle school Judicially Speaking conferences and was a Girl Scout troop leader. As a Domestic Relations Judge, she sits on the DR Best Practices Committee, and the Family Law Day Planning Committee. She supervises DR magistrates and Family Court Facilitators. She is liaison to the District Court Bench for Family Law Bar and suggests trainings. Finally, she is Co-Chair of the El Paso County Pro Bono Project steering committee and is one of three judges who run the Summer Intern Program for law students.