Second Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Brian Whitney
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Second Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance on a vote of 8 to 2 recommends that Judge Brian Whitney BE RETAINED.
Governor Bill Owens appointed Judge Whitney as a Denver District Court Judge effective January 2007. Before his appointment, Judge Whitney served as First Assistant Attorney General for the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. His primary areas of litigation were environmental, racketeering, and other areas of criminal law. He also served as Administrator of the Colorado State Grand Jury, the Chief Environmental Prosecutor for the State of Colorado, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting federal environmental law violations in Colorado. Prior areas of practice include complex commercial litigation, product liability, insurance defense, criminal defense, criminal and civil appeals, contract disputes, and patents and intellectual property disputes. Prior to law school he worked as an electrical engineer. He received his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University and law degree from the University of Denver.
The Commission reviewed the results of surveys of attorneys, appellate judges and non-attorneys who were familiar with Judge Whitney’s work, reviewed his self-evaluation, interviewed the Judge, and reviewed three of his written opinions. In addition, selected members of the Commission observed Judge Whitney in court. Of the 39 attorneys completing the survey, 95% recommended to retain, 0% not to retain and 5% expressed no opinion. Of the 49 non-attorneys completing the survey, 87% recommended to retain, 10% not to retain, and 2% expressed no opinion. (These percentages do not total 100% due to rounding).
The results of the surveys of attorneys and non-attorneys showed that Judge Whitney was rated highly. He exceeds the average of other judges standing for retention in almost all areas of case management, application and knowledge of the law, demeanor, communications and diligence. However, while 55% of attorney respondents rated Judge Whitney completely neutral, 26% felt he was biased in favor the prosecution in criminal cases and an appellate judge’s observation is in agreement with this perception. This added to the Commission’s concern about the perception of bias. During his interview, Judge Whitney indicated he takes seriously any comments from an appellate judge as well as the survey results and stated he is taking proactive steps to address this issue. Given his strengths, the majority of the Commission recommends the voters retain Judge Whitney.