Fifth Judicial District - Eagle County Court Judge
Honorable Katharine T. Sullivan
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Fifth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends 9-0, with one member absent, that Judge Katharine T. Sullivan BE RETAINED.
Judge Sullivan was appointed to the Eagle County Court in September, 2006. Prior to her appointment, Judge Sullivan was an Assistant Attorney General in the State of New York, a Deputy District Attorney in the 9th Judicial District in Colorado and an attorney in private practice. Judge Sullivan received her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, attended one year of post graduate school at Albany Law School and graduated from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Judge Sullivan believes community involvement is important and as such speaks to community groups about access to justice and problem solving courts. She has participated in the Hispanic Academy, a course geared toward the Hispanic community interested in the criminal justice system. She has participated in trainings for law enforcement related to courtroom testimony and problem solving DUI and Drug Courts. She has taught and served as a mock trial judge at a local high school. Finally, Judge Sullivan is on the advisory board of A Way Out, a non-profit organization that provides access to treatment opportunities.
The Commission interviewed Judge Sullivan, reviewed written evaluations of Judge Sullivan from attorneys and non-attorneys, reviewed her written self-evaluation, sampled Judge Sullivan’s legal rulings, observed Judge Sullivan in the courtroom, and received input from the District Attorney, the Public Defender, law enforcement, the Chief Judge along with other general members of the public. Forty-three attorneys provided survey results for Judge Sullivan. Of those 43 attorneys completing the survey 53% recommended retaining Judge Sullivan, 10% made no recommendation, and 38% recommended Judge Sullivan not be retained. Of the 55 non-attorneys completing surveys 81% recommend retention, 4% had no recommendation, and 14% recommended that Judge Sullivan not be retained.
Judge Sullivan’s greatest weakness is her judicial temperament, particularly as it relates to her treatment of attorneys in her courtroom. This is clearly reflected in the attorney survey results. Though this has been a continuing issue for Judge Sullivan, the issues have been highlighted over the past several years as a result of significant turnover in the attorneys appearing before her. The Commission was impressed by Judge Sullivan’s recognition of these issues, her desire to improve relationships with the professionals who appear before her and her proactive implementation of strategies to address the perceptions that she can be impatient, and difficult. While significantly concerned about Judge Sullivan’s ratings, the Commission is particularly impressed by Judge Sullivan’s continued success with her problem solving court. In that setting, Judge Sullivan’s strong personality shines, and her continued success with an overall graduation rate of 73% and a recidivism rate of less than 20% of those graduates is impressive. These successes along with Judge Sullivan’s clear passion for her position lead this Commission to believe that she continues to be the appropriate judicial officer for the County Court in Eagle.