Ninth Judicial District - Pitkin County Court Judge
Honorable Fitzhugh Scott III
Retention Year: 1994
Judge Scott has been County Judge for Pitkin County since 1980. This is a part-time office. Judge Scott also practices law in Aspen. The Commission found that Judge Scott’s reputation for courtesy, good manners and friendliness is almost universal. He appears to be one of the best liked persons in Pitkin County, for good reason. He has high ratings for courtesy, fairness and freedom from prejudice.
In the civil cases before him, and these constitute about half of his duties, he encourages settlements. He is intelligent, fair and open minded. It is noteworthy that Judge Scott is widely perceived to be the correct judge for Aspen, and, indeed, his strongest support seems to be from his own community.
In 1990 the commission noted that the survey results showed that Judge Scott was frequently late. Similar low marks on punctuality appeared in 1994. The problem is said to be in the organization and procedures of the Pitkin County Court docket. The Commission suggests that the procedures might be changed so that the delays are remedied and the negative comments abated.
Judge Scott’s demeanor in the courtroom is more casual than formal. Some observers felt that his style diminishes respect for the judiciary. Others commented that his demeanor is pleasant and respectful which made the trial experience comfortable for all participants. Most of the attorneys who have appeared before Judge Scott agreed that his demeanor is appropriate and that he maintains control of his courtroom. Similarly, 80 to 85% of the attorneys agreed he displays knowledge of the law, evidence, and procedures and renders prompt and clear decisions.
Notwithstanding the great popularity and respect for Judge Scott, some law enforcement officers feel that he is too lenient both in searching for reasons to find defendants not guilty in traffic cases and imposing relatively light sentences when guilt is established. These law enforcement officers told the Commission that because of Judge Scott’s leniency, they do not patrol Colorado 82 in Pitkin County as diligently as they should and frequently do not seek a rubber stamp traffic court but believe that the injury rate on Colorado Highway 82 justifies a higher conviction rate and more severe sentences.
The Ninth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends that Judge Fitzhugh Scott III BE RETAINED.