Seventeenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Patrick H. Pugh
Retention Year: 2022
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Seventeenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously agrees that the Honorable Patrick H. Pugh MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS, by a vote of 9 – 0. 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.
Before assuming his role as a criminal court judge in January 2022, Judge Pugh worked exclusively in juvenile court. Among the positive comments about his tenure there: “Judge Pugh takes the time to actually speak to and listen to the parties of the case, not just the attorneys.” and “Judge Pugh treats everyone from professionals, parties to observers in his courtroom with respect. Even when he is ruling against a party, he takes the time to explain his decision and treat that person and their counsel with respect.” Negative comments included: “Dockets are not always timely, sometimes hearings can last longer than they need to last.” and “He could move proceedings along quicker.” To address timeliness concerns, Judge Pugh responded: “I transformed the docket schedule and implemented a trial management order to focus the issues and disputes for trial or contested hearings. Rather than a trailing docket [setting all proceedings at 8:30a and letting them take as much time as they might] which was in place when I started in juvenile, we began scheduling cases for 20-minute periods which could be expanded depending on the complexity of the case. This allowed us to operate more on time and still ensure fair and complete hearings. The trial management order required attorneys to be more thoughtful about the issues in the case and to set the hearings to more closely resemble what is needed.”
In addition to interviewing Judge Pugh, the Commission reviewed survey results received from an independent firm which asked both attorneys and non-attorneys to rank Judge Pugh on five metrics: Legal Knowledge, Integrity, Judicial Temperament, Communication Skills, Administrative Performance, and Service To Both The Legal Profession And The Public. His high demeanor scores, particularly those relating to giving proceedings a sense of dignity and treating participants with respect, were noteworthy. Virtual and in-person observations in his courtroom showed Judge Pugh to be an active listener, patient, and careful and articulate in his decision making. His opinions are clearly written and absent obtuse legal jargon.
Judge Pugh has been a District Court judge since July 2019. Prior to his appointment, he worked as a commercial litigation attorney. He went to the University of Kansas for both his undergraduate and law school degrees, graduating, in 2005, in the top 8% of his law school class. Committed to community service and advancement of legal education, he volunteers with humanitarian and arts organizations, presents at legal education seminars, and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Litigation Section Executive Council.