First Judicial District - District Judge
Honorable Laura A. Tighe
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance (“Commission”) voted 5 to 5 that Judge Laura A. Tighe MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Tighe practiced civil litigation for twenty-seven years prior to becoming a Jefferson County District Court judge in December 2014. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1984 and a Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University School of Law in 1987. Judge Tighe is very active in community service including judging Jefferson County high school mock trials, teaching school children, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Professionally, she has been active in the American Board of Trial Advocates, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (instructor), and multiple legal committees.
The commission conducted personal interviews with Judge Tighe, reviewed opinions she authored, observed her in court, reviewed comments received from interested parties, and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had had experience with her. The evaluation questionnaire includes the question “based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge Tighe meets judicial performance standards?” Of the thirty-four attorneys included in the survey results, 53% (18) answered, yes meets performance standards, 44% (15) answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 3% (1) had no opinion. Of the sixty-one non-attorneys, 75% (46) answered, yes meets performance standards, 15% (9) answered no, does not meet performance standards, and 10% (6) had no opinion. Among attorney evaluations Judge Tighe ranked below the average of her peer judges in all categories: Case Management, Application and Knowledge of the Law, Communications, Demeanor, and Diligence. Among non-attorney evaluations, she ranked below the average in the categories of Demeanor, Communications, Diligence, and Application of Law, and slightly above the average in the category of Fairness. Judge Tighe’s evaluation by two Appellate judges (Colorado Supreme Court Justices and/or Colorado Court of Appeals Judges) was below the average.
When Judge Tighe presided over Division 14 (civil and domestic relations, no criminal) from December 2014 to June 2016, she implemented rules and processes which many attorneys considered inefficient and unnecessarily costly to both plaintiff and defense. Attorney comments noted her hard work, intelligence and compassion but expressed concern about judicial statements which were verbose, inappropriate, and slowed court proceedings. During the time she has presided over Division 7 (48% criminal, 35% civil, 16% domestic relations), from July 2016 to the present, attorneys have expressed concern regarding Judge Tighe’s unfamiliarity with criminal law and criminal courts, inconsistent sentencing, inappropriate statements, condescension toward attorneys, and inability to efficiently run a busy criminal docket. She has attended New Judge Orientation and Advanced New Judge Orientation, receives support from other judges and the chief judge, and has been observed and counseled by a retired chief judge. She has committed to improve her criminal law knowledge, criminal docket management, communication, and demeanor, and to reassess case management requirements for civil and domestic cases. To improve her performance, she will be mentored and observed by judges and will attend judicial education programs.