The Twenty-First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance agrees (8-1) that Judge Matthew D. Barrett MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Appointed to the district court in 2019, Judge Barrett presides over primarily a criminal docket, though a portion of his workload consists of civil litigation, domestic relations, and probate matters. In evaluating Judge Barrett’s performance, the commission conducted a personal interview of the Judge, considered his self-evaluation, reviewed written decisions he authored, and assessed survey feedback from attorneys and non-attorneys. The commission also discussed Judge Barrett’s performance with representatives from the District Attorney’s office and the Public Defender’s office. Finally, commissioners conducted courtroom observations of Judge Barrett in person and via Webex.
After carefully evaluating the information before it, the Commission concludes Judge Barrett meets or exceeds performance standards for the judicial criteria identified by state law—namely: integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, and service to legal profession and the public. That information included Judge Barrett’s 2022 survey results, reflecting input from 54 individuals and an overall score equal to that of other district court judges. Certain aspects of the survey, however, were inconclusive: For example, the results showed above-average performance scores from non-attorneys but below-average performance scores from attorneys. These mixed survey results were at odds with a 2021 judicial survey showing Judge Barrett excelling in key performance areas and scoring above average in comparison to other district judges for both attorneys and non-attorneys.
Commissioners recognize and appreciate Judge Barrett’s competence in the law, his thorough preparation, and the high expectations he has for attorneys who appear before him. In their interview, Commissioners raised concern over feedback they had received about judicial demeanor—namely that on occasion Judge Barrett can be perceived as both pro-prosecution and as unduly harsh toward some defendants. Judge Barrett seemed sincere in response to this feedback and stated that he was continuously striving for fairness and impartiality. He acknowledged conducting a more formal courtroom, and fully appreciates the need to improve his demeanor and his overall presentation in Court. The Commission appreciated that Judge Barrett came across as conscientious, self-reflective, and open to constructive input about this aspect of his judicial service.
Judge Barrett is a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. In addition to earning academic honors, while a student he worked in the legal aid clinic representing indigent defendants. Before becoming a district court judge, Judge Barrett served as a prosecutor and commercial litigator. The Commission finds Judge Barrett to be a valuable member of the bench in the Twenty-First Judicial District.