Twentieth Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Norma A. Sierra
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The 20th Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) finds that Judge Norma A. Sierra MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Sierra was sworn in as a 20th Judicial District Court Judge in August 2015. She previously served as District Court Magistrate, 2002-2011, and as County Court Judge from 2011 to 2015. Before becoming a judge, she worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, and in private practice as a mediator and domestic relations attorney. Judge Sierra holds a law degree from the University of Texas and an undergraduate degree from University of Texas-El Paso.
The Commission evaluated Judge Sierra based on the criteria set forth in state law (C.R.S. 13-5.5-107): integrity, legal knowledge, communication skills, judicial temperament, administrative performance, and service to the legal profession and the public. Each Commissioner observed Judge Sierra in her courtroom. Each Commissioner also reviewed Judge Sierra’s self-evaluation, samples of her rulings and orders, a report on her caseload, and anonymous results of qualitative surveys sent to people who appeared in her courtroom during 2017. The Commission met with the Chief Judge, the District Attorney, and the Chair of the Boulder Chapter of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. The Commission held a public hearing on May 15, 2018, to gather input from the community. The Commission also interviewed Judge Sierra. Due to concerns about the limited number of survey responses, Commissioners gave less weight to the survey results. Of the 25 attorneys who responded to the survey, 76% said Judge Sierra meets performance standards. Of the 33 non-attorneys who responded to the survey, 100% said Judge Sierra meets performance standards. The Commission found that courtroom observations (totaling 41 hours for all Commissioners), meetings with various stakeholders, and interviewing Judge Sierra provided the best insights.
Judge Sierra’s workload was 100% civil cases from August 2015 to August 2017 and 50% each domestic relations and probate cases since that time. In moving from the County Court to District Court, Judge Sierra found that she needed to learn more about civil law, an area where she did not previously have experience. Stakeholders commented that Judge Sierra rose to the challenge, and she gets good marks for her knowledge of the law. Judge Sierra excels at managing the courtroom in a dignified and professional manner. She takes care to make sure that all participants understand the proceedings. Her questions of litigants are incisive and demonstrate mastery of the details of cases. Judge Sierra’s rulings and opinions are generally timely, clear and thorough. She takes pride in community service activities and has worked to provide educational programs for the public. She has been active in Boulder County bar programs and committees. She views her work as a judicial officer as a privilege and recognizes her responsibility for upholding public trust. Based on the Commission’s overall evaluation, Judge Sierra has demonstrated that she meets or exceeds performance standards in all categories.