Sixteenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Michael Andrew Schiferl
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Does Not Meet Performance Standard
The Sixteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance, recommends, by vote of 6 to 3, with one recusal, that Judge Michael Andrew Schiferl NOT BE RETAINED. If he is retained notwithstanding the recommendation, the Commission unanimously recommends Judge Schiferl participate in an improvement plan.
Judge Schiferl was appointed to the District Court bench in 2002. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Colorado and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Gonzaga Law School. He was in private practice for eleven years and served eleven years as Deputy District Attorney. Judge Schiferl is active with 4H, Boy Scouts, courtroom outreach, and is an Honorary Member of Koshare Dancers. Within the judicial community he serves on SB94 Committee to help prevent detention of juveniles, the Tri-County Community Corrections Board, Access to Justice Committee, Statewide Truancy Best Practices Committee, and helped form local Team for Family Success.
The Commission considered the Judge’s written self-evaluation, results from the Judicial Performance Survey of attorneys and non-attorneys who had been involved in proceedings in his courtroom, written decisions submitted by the Judge, courtroom observations by the Commissioners, input from representatives of the District Attorney and Public Defender’s offices, comments made during public hearings, and an interview with the Judge. The survey results reflected responses from 20 attorneys who completed the survey: 55% recommended retention, 40% non-retention, and 5% made no recommendation. The completed survey results reflect 33 non-attorney responses: 82% recommended retention, 9% non-retention, and 9% made no recommendation.
Judge Schiferl brings many valuable capabilities to his work as a judge. His work on the drug and truancy problem-solving courts has received statewide recognition. Judge Schiferl is dedicated to increasing the outreach of the judiciary through his work with the 16th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee. He is compassionate and approachable for unrepresented litigants who often require extra time and explanation during a case, which is a testament to his devotion to making the judicial system accessible to all litigants. However, Judge Schiferl’s accessibility comes with a diminished sense of formality that appears, to many, to be a lack of professionalism. In this rural judicial district, Judge Schiferl often appears too familiar with the litigants in his division, blurring necessary boundaries and failing to maintain the appearance of neutrality. The Commission again noted many of the same weaknesses addressed in Judge Schiferl’s 2010 and 2004 judicial evaluations. It appears Judge Schiferl made little effort to improve his writing. His legal writing skills are poor and the Judge is sloppy in the formatting, flow, and grammar appearing in his written work. His orders fail to maintain the necessary air of dignity and are not issued in a timely manner. The Commission, composed of 4 attorneys and 6 non-attorneys, is troubled that Judge Schiferl does not accept constructive criticism and is not receptive to suggestions for positive change and development.
Judge Michael Andrew Schiferl’s Response: On the committee, a majority of the attorney members practice criminal law. These attorneys have a vested interest in trying to remove me as a judge due to the present system of very favorable plea bargains. These plea bargains frequently have little regard as to how dangerous the defendant may be. In the past three and a half years there has only been one jury trial in my court and for two years about one third of the cases have been dismissed. To these attorneys no defendant was so dangerous to justify a trial. I ask that I BE RETAINED.