Sixteenth Judicial District - Bent County Court Judge
Honorable Samuel Scott Vigil
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Sixteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (10-0) recommends that Judge Samuel Scott Vigil BE RETAINED.
Judge Vigil was appointed to the Bent County bench on February 7, 2013. This position is classified as a 25% judgeship, which allows him to maintain his private practice in Las Animas, Colorado. Previously, he served as Deputy District Attorney in the 16th Judicial District. Judge Vigil earned his undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico and Juris Doctorate from Tulane University Law School. Believing that community involvement shows he cares and is accessible, he is active in his church and coaches wrestling at the youth, middle school and high school levels. He also serves on the Bent County Development Foundation Board of Directors, promoting economic activity for his community of Las Animas, Colorado.
The Commission considered the Judge’s written self-evaluation, results from the Judicial Performance Survey of attorneys and non-attorneys who had been involved in proceedings in his courtroom, written decisions submitted by the Judge, courtroom observations by the Commissioners, input from representatives of the District Attorney and Public Defender’s offices, comments made during public hearings, and an interview with the Judge. The completed survey results reflect responses from 8 attorneys: 71% recommended retention, 14% non-retention, and 14% made no recommendation. The completed survey results reflect 24 non-attorney responses: 82% recommended retention, 13% non-retention, and 4% made no recommendation. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.)
While presiding over the Las Animas County Court one day a week as a 25% judge, Judge Vigil sees civil cases, small claims cases, criminal matters, protection order cases, and evictions. His calm, formal, patient and thoughtful demeanor helps ensure that all parties have an opportunity to be heard and conveys impartiality to all litigants. The Commission discussed the challenges of maintaining a private practice while guarding the impartiality required of a sitting county court judge. Judge Vigil candidly and openly discussed the challenges presented by this unique circumstance and the concrete measures he has implemented within his private practice and with his staff to ensure that conflicts are identified early and that a perceived conflict would not diminish the dignity of his office. Judge Vigil’s clear advisements of defendants, well-written orders and acuity with courtroom technology are noted as clear strengths. Judge Vigil was counseled to continue to hone his skills and continue his legal education so he can more ably manage unique or unexpected legal issues and demonstrate a more confident demeanor on the bench. To his credit, Judge Vigil is open to suggestions for improvement and continually strives to increase his knowledge of the law and courtroom procedure to better serve the people of the 16th Judicial District. Indeed, it was clear to the Commission that Judge Vigil devotes much more time and energy to his office than the 25% judgeship would suggest.