First Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Tamara Russell
Retention Year: 2014
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends that Judge Tamara Russell BE RETAINED.
Judge Russell was appointed to the First Judicial District Court in October, 2005, and was retained by voters in 2008. Immediately prior to her appointment, she had served the City of Lakewood for eight years as its chief deputy city attorney. She strongly believes in community service, and has been engaged in a range of law-related activities including serving in recent years as the vice-chair of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, serving on the oversight committee for a grant received by the Jefferson Center for Mental Health, serving as the judge liaison for Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Probation, and has given presentations on law-related topics to diverse community groups. She has also been an active supporter of The Gathering Place, a women’s shelter. Judge Russell graduated from the University of Indiana with a degree in Psychology, and received her law degree from the University of Colorado in 1987.
The Judicial Performance Commission interviewed Judge Russell, observed her presiding in court, reviewed her written opinions and reviewed her self-evaluation. The Commission also interviewed both the Public Defender and the District Attorney for the First Judicial District. A strong 87% of attorneys responding to the survey recommended Judge Russell be retained, 6% not to retain, and 8% (rounded) made no recommendation regarding retention. Among non-attorneys, 95% recommended to retain, 2% not to retain, and 3% made no recommendation regarding retention. While 47% of attorneys regarded Judge Russell as biased toward the prosecution in her criminal cases, 40% regarded the judge as neutral. Among non-attorneys, 88% regarded her as neutral, while 8% regarded her as biased towards the prosecution. In her interview, she shared that she has found that punishing people who appear before her in (drug) Recovery Court does not work, but encouraging them to do the right thing is an effective motivator. She tries to build relationships and offer encouragement whenever possible.
Judge Russell scored above average in all performance categories that were surveyed. The Commission was particularly impressed with her devotion and compassion toward the citizens she works within the Recovery Court. She has found that patience and insights from those special cases have made her a better and more responsive judge in her civil and criminal cases. Based on these findings, the Commission unanimously recommends Judge Russell BE RETAINED.