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Ossola, Thomas 1994 Evaluation


Ninth Judicial District - District Court Judge

Honorable Thomas W. Ossola

Retention Year: 1994
Recommendation: Retain


Judge Ossola was appointed a County Court Judge in 1976. Judge Ossola has been a District Court Judge since January 1980. He is Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial District and has a variety of administrative duties in that capacity. The Colorado Supreme Court appointed him Water Judge in Water Division No .5 which encompasses a large part of the drainage of the Colorado River. The burdens of administrative duties of Chief Judge in the district have been heavy with a rapidly expanding case load and significant reductions in budget.

The questionnaires distributed by the Judicial Department have produced mixed results on Judge Ossola – both positive and negative. The Commission believes that the evaluations, even though with negative comments, show a consensus that the judge should be retained.

Most of the responses from attorneys to particular questions were 80 to 90% favorable, with a lower figure (62%) on courtesy. Answers from a large number of attorneys were: 76% to retain, 18% not to retain, and 6% no opinion. His rating on diligence was 98%.

A sample of attorney comments is as follows:

“Judge Ossola is an acceptable judge but not a good one. His interpretations of the law are inconsistent, unpredictable and too often wrong. It seems like I have had fare more trips to the Court of Appeals on his rulings that should have been necessary to get the correct result. He seems to have trouble with the difficult domestic cases. I can only reluctantly recommend his retention.”

“I have occasion to appear before many of the judges on the Western Slope and some judges in the Denver Metro area. Judge Ossola is one of the best, overall judges I have been privileged to practice before. I only wish all districts could be as fortunate to have someone of his quality”

The Commission concludes that Judge Ossola is a fair and impartial judge who is among the hardest working of judges. The comments brought some problems to light. The Commission has concluded the judge’s occasional displays of temperament or anger are not helpful to the process. It is clear that, with years of experience, he has grown in his ability to judge. He has commenced to delegate a number of his duties and tasks as Chief Judge.  The Commission endorses the distribution of duties and believe it will be of benefit to all. The administrative tasks with a larger work load and decreasing budget have contributed substantially to the pressures on the office of Chief Judge. The Commission believes that there will be further improvements in the evaluations of Judge Ossola in future years.

The Ninth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Thomas W. Ossola BE RETAINED.