Eighteenth Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Michael Spear
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Michael Spear MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Spear was appointed to the bench in 2003. His docket in Douglas County primarily serves domestic relations and mental health cases. Judge Spear also volunteered for a special project in Denver County involving a state-wide grand jury. Judge Spear graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in International Studies and German and received his law degree from the University of Denver. Prior to his appointment, Judge Spear clerked for the Honorable Michael J. Watanabe, served as a District Attorney in the Eighteenth Judicial District, and was in private practice.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Spear, reviewed Judge Spear’s self-evaluation as well as written decisions authored by him, made courtroom observations, reviewed comments received from interested parties during the evaluation, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge Spear. The Commission also received input from interested parties and considered Judge Spear’s 2018 judicial caseload data. Among the survey questions was, "based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge Spear meets judicial performance standards?" Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 80% answered yes, meets performance standards, 13% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 8% had no opinion. Of the non-attorneys responding to the survey, 77% answered yes, meets performance standards, 19% answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 3% had no opinion. (These percentages do not total 100% due to rounding). Forty attorneys and thirty-two non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys expressing their opinion of Judge Spear’s performance.
Judge Spear scored slightly higher than the statewide average of all district judges standing for retention in most categories in the attorney surveys with a few lower scores than the statewide average in the areas of diligence and communications. Judge Spear’s scores and comments demonstrate significant improvement since his 2012 Retention Survey in the area of demeanor. Judge Spear received praise for his ability to explain the legal system in understandable terms to self-represented litigants who appear before him and for being a good listener. A few attorneys and litigants expressed concern about delays in rulings, response time for urgent matters as well as an insensitive approach to court participants. The Commission also expressed concern regarding Judge Spear’s handling of an appellate case that was remanded for review. These concerns were discussed with Judge Spear and the Commission is confident these concerns have been addressed. Based on the Commission's overall evaluation, the Commission unanimously agreed that Judge Spear meets judicial performance standards.