Sixteenth Judicial District - Otero County Court Judge
Honorable Ralph N. Wadleigh
Retention Year: 1990
Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation: Should Be Retained.
Judge Wadleigh is a native of Cheraw. He graduated from Cheraw High School in 1950 and attended what was then known as La Junta Junior College for two years. Wadleigh attended the University of Denver, served in the U.S. Army in Europe, then returned to Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado Law School in 1958. He was admitted to the bar in September 1958.
Wadleigh returned to La Junta where he was engaged in private practice until being appointed as Otero County judge by Governor Romer in January 1988.
Otero County Court is classified by the state legislature as a part-time county court. The pay is set by the number of cases finished each year. This particular court is rated as 90% full-time. As a result of being classified part-time, the judge may have a private law practice also as long as it does not conflict with judicial duties. Wadleigh does handle a few private clients.
Attorney evaluations of Judge Wadleigh were returned by 19 lawyers. Favorable responses were given in all categories including conduct free of impropriety, legal decisions without public influence, equal treatment regardless of sex or social status, sense of justice, legal reasoning, knowledge of the law, evidence rules, and rules of procedure and decisions.
Likewise, responses from jurors, court staff, and law enforcement were favorable.
Judge Wadleigh finds being a judge is less stressful than the private practice of law and allows him to have a more objective detachment from a case. He believes his strengths to be an ability to listen to people in court and fairness. Interestingly, the judge’s one complaint was the lack of punctuality on the part of the people appearing in court. This was a criticism that also appeared in some of the questionnaires returned to the commission.
Specific comments to the commission concerning Judge Wadleigh were minimal. However, the consensus by all categories of people dealing with the court who were asked was the judge be retained.