First Judicial District - Jefferson County Judge
Honorable Thomas Vance
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) agrees that Judge Thomas Vance MEETS JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Vance was appointed to the Jefferson County Court in July, 2004. Prior to his appointment, he served for 10 years as a Jefferson County Court Magistrate. He received a BA in Economics from the University of Denver and earned his law degree from the University of Denver Law School. Judge Vance is active in the local community as a sports coach. In addition, he conducts and judges’ mock trials and attends small claims court with high school students. He feels it is important to be out in the community and to stay in touch with those he serves.
The Commission conducted a personal interview with Judge Vance, reviewed opinions he authored, observed him in court, interviewed interested parties with significant experience with Judge Vance and reviewed survey responses from attorneys and non-attorneys who had experience with Judge Vance. Of the attorneys responding to surveys, 90% answered yes, meets performance standards, 3% answered no and 8% had no opinion. Of the non-attorneys responding to surveys, 67% answered yes, meets performance standards, 30% answered no and 2% had no opinion. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding). A total of 40 attorneys and 45 non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys expressing their opinion of Judge Vance.
Judge Vance presided over criminal, domestic violence, protection orders, and other civil actions this four-year term. For more than the last year he has presided over a civil-only court implemented to address a back log of civil cases. Judge Vance volunteered for this onerous assignment which is estimated to equate to the work of three judges. In addition, this court involves a high percentage of pro se (unrepresented) litigants. Based on the Commission’s overall evaluation Judge Vance has demonstrated he exceeds performance standards in all categories. Non-attorneys responding to the surveys were more critical of Judge Vance’s overall performance than attorneys; however, the comments on these surveys suggest that much of the criticism came from pro se litigants who were dissatisfied with the outcome of their cases. This criticism also is inconsistent with survey results from non-attorneys in prior review periods. The Commission was satisfied during interviews that Judge Vance is aware of the criticism from pro se litigants and is taking steps to insure parties feel the judge is handling proceedings in an appropriate manner. Attorneys responding to the surveys rated Judge Vance well above average in every category. The Commission did not observe any problems with Judge Vance’s judicial performance during courtroom observations or in interviews with interested parties. During courtroom observations, the Commission observed that Judge Vance was fair, demonstrated an excellent demeanor, and efficiently managed an extremely busy docket. Judge Vance is a long-standing and well-respected member of the court. Based on these findings the Commission unanimously agrees that Judge Vance MEETS JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.