Sixth Judicial District - La Plata County Court Judge
Honorable Anne Kathryn Woods
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Commission was particularly impressed with the effort and thought that Judge Woods invested in the evaluation process. She submitted evidence to support her points, engaged thoughtfully with Commission criticisms, and verbalized a strong commitment to achieving judicial excellence. A consistent theme emerged that Judge Woods has made significant efforts to improve her performance since the interim evaluation. The Commission continues to believe that she has opportunities for further improvement but has found she meets the performance standards. She has always won plaudits for her commitment to treating defendants with respect, and she has made improvements in how she treats victims. The Commission encourages her to continue working on her interactions with all courtroom participants. During the interim evaluation, the Commission found the public did not see Judge Woods as fair. Judge Woods has made improvements by focusing on applying consistent sentencing. Her tendency to look to mitigating factors in a defendant’s individual circumstances (eg. generational trauma or past history of being abused) can give rise to the appearance of inconsistency. The public still may be partially anchored on the view that Judge Woods is a pro-defense judge, but the Commission noted a significant increase in cash bail and sentences above the minimum since the interim evaluation. Judge Woods is aware it is important to avoid the appearance of bias. Like other judges, there are other areas where Judge Woods has improved and other areas where the Commission feels she needs improvement. On balance, the Commission finds she meets the performance standards.
The Commission reviewed comments from the public and analyzed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had appeared in Judge Woods’ court. The Commission observed her in court (both in person and via Webex), reviewed decisions she authored, her self-evaluation, met (separately) with Chief Judge Wilson, the Public Defender, and the District Attorney, and conducted a personal interview with Judge Woods. A total of 90 people provided sufficient responses to the survey questions. Judge Woods received an average overall score of 2.9 out of 4; the average of all county judges in Colorado was 3.4. While Judge Woods’ survey results were below average, they were a significant improvement over her interim survey results. Among the survey questions was “Do you think Judge Woods meets judicial performance standards?” Of the 42 attorneys responding, 53% answered “Yes”, 34% answered “No”, and 13% had no opinion. Of the 42 non-attorneys responding, 68% answered “Yes”, 23% answered “No”, and 9% had no opinion. Judge Woods docket is comprised of approximately 25% Civil and 75% Criminal (50% misdemeanor and 50% traffic). Juvenile defendants comprised 1-2% of the docket.
Judge Woods was appointed to the County Court bench for the 6th Judicial District in October of 2020. Prior to her appointment Judge Woods served for five years in the 6th Judicial District Public Defender’s office, rising to a Senior Deputy Public Defender for Montezuma County Court and La Plata County Court. Prior to law school, Judge Woods served for three years with AmeirCorps. Judge Woods received her BA (Summa Cum Laude) from Arizona State University and her JD in 2015 from University of Denver.