Twelfth Judicial District - Rio Grande County Judge
Honorable Barbara A. Zollars
Retention Year: 2018
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Twelfth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously (9-0) agrees that Judge Barbara A. Zollars MEETS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.
Judge Zollars was appointed to the Rio Grande County Court on August 13, 2015. She is a graduate of the Seattle University School of Law. Judge Zollars is active in local mock trial activities for high school students in addition to her work as the Rio Grande County Judge. Previously, she was in private practice as a partner in the San Luis Valley Law Firm. Prior to entering private practice, Judge Zollars was the Office Head for the Colorado State Public Defender regional offices in Alamosa, Fort Collins, and Silverthorne, and was a Deputy Colorado State Public Defender in the regional offices of Greeley and La Junta. Prior to moving to Colorado, Judge Zollars was the founder and director of the Legal Action Center at the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle and was an employment rights commissioner for the City of Seattle.
The Commission conducted an interview with Judge Zollars, reviewed opinions she authored, observed her in court, and reviewed survey responses from individuals who had experience with Judge Zollars. Among the survey questions was “based on your responses to the previous questions related to the performance evaluation criteria, do you think Judge Zollars meets judicial performance standards?” Of the attorneys responding to the survey, 88% answered, yes, meets performance standards, 6% answered no, and 6% had no opinion. Of non-attorneys responding to the survey, 79% answered yes, meets performance standards, 14% answered no, and 7% had no opinion. A total of 18 attorneys, and 27 non-attorneys responded to the judicial performance surveys evaluating Judge Zollars’ performance.
Judge Zollars presided over several case types including traffic offenses, misdemeanor criminal cases, civil protection order requests, landlord-tenant matters, and small claims actions. Based on the Commission’s overall evaluation, Judge Zollars has demonstrated that she meets or exceeds performance standards in all categories. Judge Zollars scored above the average for all county court judges on each survey question answered by attorneys. Non- attorneys responding to the surveys were more critical of Judge Zollars’ overall performance and she scored slightly below or at the same level as the average for all county court judges. Several comments from individuals responding to surveys addressed a lack of patience with individuals appearing before Judge Zollars. The Commission did not observe this trait during courtroom observations and was satisfied during the interview that Judge Zollars is aware of the criticism and working to address this concern. Judge Zollars received high marks in case management, application and knowledge of the law, and communications. Judge Zollars was described as an excellent communicator, and a judge who is unafraid to rule against either side if the law supports her ruling. The Commission noted that Judge Zollars expressed humility and willingness to grow and to continue to hone her skills as a judge. Based on these findings, the Commission unanimously agreed that Judge Zollars meets judicial performance standards.