A Judicial Performance Commission used a survey and interviews to rate Judge James Garrecht, and the consensus is to retain him.

Photo by Scott Franz

A Judicial Performance Commission used a survey and interviews to rate Judge James Garrecht, and the consensus is to retain him.

Commission advises to retain Routt County Judge Garrecht

Surveys and interviews used in review of Routt County Court judge

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Read the survey report about

Judge James Garrecht at www.coloradojudicialperformance.gov/retention.cfm/ret/659.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the makeup of the Judicial Performance Commission. There are four attorneys and four non-attorneys.

Few people have spent any significant amount of time in front of Routt County Judge James Garrecht, either in his old courtroom downtown or in the new Routt County Justice Center. He’s been tending court for 24 years, all in Routt County, but when voters are asked to vote whether to retain him in the November election, it will be tantamount to the flip of a coin.

But the Judicial Perfor­mance Commission, made up of four attorneys and four non-attorneys from the 14th Judicial District, used a survey and interviews to rate Garrecht, the only judge in Routt County up for retention this year. The consensus: retain him.

The state hired a survey company to poll people who played a role in Garrecht’s courtroom during the year: lawyers, witnesses, jurors and parties who appeared before him in courtroom 1A.

From there, the Judicial Performance Commission used an interview and writing samples submitted by the judge to review his performance and issue a summary recommendation.

“Judge Garrecht handles a high volume of cases in county court and demonstrates an ability to keep cases moving forward in a timely manner,” the summary states. “The surveys indicate that Judge Garrecht has the ability to relate to both attorneys and non-attorneys in the courtroom in a cordial and friendly manner. Overall, the survey results show he is fair and efficient. Judge Garrecht is consistent in his sentences and rulings, reflecting a fair application of the law. The commission recommends based on courtroom observation that the court should return to a more formal standard with a focus on decorum.”

The final comment — the only real criticism leveled at the judge — also is something that sets Garrecht’s courtroom apart.

“My courtroom tends to be a little … less austere. A little bit more friendly and communicative,” Garrecht said.

He said having a slightly relaxed atmosphere also serves the interests of justice.

“I expect this to be kind of a friendly court; this is a people’s court,” he said. “I don’t want to make it a scary place. I want them to feel confident and express their opinion and say what they want to say without fear coming into the equation.”

Of the 41 attorneys surveyed, 87 percent recommended retaining Garrecht, 8 percent recommended not retaining and 5 percent expressed no opinion. Of the 155 non-attorneys, 78 percent recommended Garrecht’s retention, 8 percent recommended against retention and 13 percent did not mark an opinion. The second set doesn’t add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

Respondents also were asked to grade Garrecht on a grade of 0 to 4, similar to a grade of F to A. Garrecht was rated 3.41 overall, with 4 being the highest. Attorneys graded him 3.31 overall, with non-attorneys giving a grade of 3.5. The grades were tabulated using a new method this year so they cannot be directly compared to previous surveys, but Garrecht has earned similar grades in other years. Among jurors, Garrecht was graded even higher, at 3.71.

Survey advantages

Steamboat Springs lawyer Kris Hammond, a member of the commission, said the system of judge review prevents the campaigning that judges in other states are forced to do.

“I think it really cheapens the whole process to see judges with billboards up on highways, ‘Vote for me, I’ll be meaner than the other guy,’” he said.

In Colorado, judges are appointed by the governor and go through the merit selection process for an up-or-down vote.

District Judges Shelley Hill and Michael O’Hara also serve in Routt County but are not up for a retention vote this year.

The commission also recommended Garrecht’s retention in the previous four reviews, in 2006, 2002 and 1998. He said the process gives him feedback that helps him refine his performance. He said he hasn’t changed how he acts dramatically throughout the years but that he has become more comfortable in the role.

He estimated that he has seen more than 72,000 cases, estimated on the low range of 3,000 to 4,000 cases per year.

He said the reviews are serious — at least a couple of judges were not retained throughout the years — but he also has never had a negative review.

Comments

aichempty 4 years ago

Okay boys and girls. There have been a lot of times over the past few years where people have had complaints about Judge Garrecht's decisions on the bench, so this is the time to roll them out again and show the voters what they need to know.

In the first place, having Kris Hammond in charge of rating Judge Garrecht is a pure and simple conflict of interest. Whether you agree with the Don Nord marijuana case or not, it was Judge Garrecht who entered an order in violation of federal law holding the agents who were enforcing the federal law in contempt of court. A federal judge in Denver struck down Judge Garrecht's order requiring the officers to return contraband which had been confiscated under federal law. Kris Hammond represented Nord in that action.

The bottom line in this case is that Judge Garrecht used the power of the state to do a favor for Hammond and his client in blatant violation of federal law. It accomplished nothing except to put some ordinary men, doing their jobs, in fear of unlawful retaliation by Judge Garrecht, all for the benefit of Kris Hammond.

Someone should take a very close look at how many cases Hammond has argued before Judge Garrecht, and how many of them have gone for and against Hammond's clients.

There are attorneys in this town working hard for the benefit of ordinary people who don't have a lot of money who constantly have to deal with local judges entering orders in excess of, or in absence of, jurisdiction. The words I've heard them say are, "I spoon-feed the law to Judge Garrecht, and he rules against it for no apparent reason."

Judge Garrecht comes across as a fine, compassionate man, and most of what he does on the bench really is good. However, both he and Judge O'Hara do things which are not in accordance with the written laws and precedents they are sworn to uphold, and the result is denial of justice to people just like you and me who trust the courts to do the lawful thing, and find out that some attorneys just don't lose in front of certain judges.

Judge Garrecht's handling of various criminal cases has also drawn attention, such as the one where a driver fled the scene of an accident without attempting to get help for the injured passenger, and the passenger left alone in the vehicle died. The driver got a light sentence from Judge Garrecht which mostly amounted to credit for time served awaiting trial. Thanks a bunch. I feel safer; how about you?

Want a good, solid, recent example? Judge Garrecht denied a bail increase requested by the District Attorney's office for the man recently arrested for trying to kill his wife -- a man represented by Kris Hammond.

Of course Hammond likes him. Hammond has a great record because of him. That's why this whole situation is wrong, and it's time the facts were exposed.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aichempty: You seem to know a lot about the doings at the courthouse...what's your connection?

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mmjPatient22 4 years ago

Despite having an almost tangible sliminess that wreaks of being a little too "in the know," I have to admit that I'm almost half-impressed by aich's debriefing there. Truth is a passion of mine and I'm all about exposing corruption & abuse of power, especially elected power(s). Personally, I believe that elected positions need less incumbents and more fresh faces. That way, should corruption lay hold of a particular office, it will automatically be repaired with the changing of the guard.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

The ratings is done by collecting a poll of lawyers and people that have been in court in front of Judge Garrecht. If he was unfair then the half that lost cases in front of him would be unhappy. So having 87 percent positive means that a minimum of 37% of the people that lost cases in front of him thought he was fair.

He also got a grade of 3.41 which is quite high. All judges have some cases overturned on appeal, the important question is whether it is very common and that is not the case.

And what is his abuse of power? The order in the Don Nord case that "was in violation of federal law" was because Don Nord won on appeal in the state courts and Judge Garrecht, a state judge, did his job of following higher state courts. What was that order? It was an order to GRAMNET to return to Don Nord, a registered mmj patient with truly serious health problems, his growing equipment and his mmj. By Aic's logic, Judge Garrecht should not be retained because he adheres to Colorado's mmj law, not the federal drug law.

Which is why we should not remove judges because we disagree with some particular decision, but because they treat people poorly, are biased, or have ethical lapses. None of these are true for Judge Garrecht and he should retain his judgeship.

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aichempty 4 years ago

This is not about me. It's about everyone else who has seen Judge Garrecht's handling of various cases and questioned his actions -- including attorneys. I hope more people will speak out. I just hoped to get the ball rolling.

Civil law, family law, and criminal law are three different areas which get different treatment around here. Each judge needs to be evaluated based not on what they have done RIGHT, but on anything they have done which deprives a citizen of this country of a right secured by the United States Constitution. The judicial review process in Colorado is a quid-pro-quo machine which does not deal with injustice. Even former judge Joel Thompson who was voted out in 2002 got a favorable rating from one or more of the attorneys who sat in review of his performance after the cocaine scandal which resulted in Thompson's removal by the voters.

Judge Garrecht is not a bad man. Unfortunately, there is ample reason to suspect bias in favor of more than one attorney who has served on these boards, and that is the issue. There's a new crop of young, ethical attorneys around here who would do a great job in his place, if they had the chance to be appointed to the bench. Giving them that chance would be good for everyone -- even those who support Judge Garrecht.

Scott, you are smart enough to know that the people on the judicial review committees are volunteers who are selected to serve. The fact that Kris Hammond ought to be Judge Garrecht's biggest fan should tell you about the objectivity that was applied in the entire process.

Maybe he treats 1000 people fairly, and only 1 has their rights under the law denied. Does that mean a doctor who saves 1000 and murders 1 should not go to jail? It's the same ethical principal, and any judge who does a favor for an attorney for political gain should be out on the street. (Want to guess who would probably be Kris Hammond's next law partner? Judge O'Hara used to be Hammond's partner too. Figure it out.)

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Well, I do not believe that Judge Garrecht has murdered anyone. When someone is convinced he is wrong then it can be appealed and I don't see any pattern of his decisions being overturned. Nor does het have an excessive number of cases being overturned.

And it appears that you are bothered by cases in which Judge Garrecht is agreeing with the plea bargain between the DA and defense. Between that and wanting him to ignore Colorado MMJ laws and instead have a state judge follow federal drug laws, it looks like you want a rogue judge.

I am not sure if the sort of judge you want exists, but I think it is pretty clear that sort of judge would be menace to the justice system.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aichempty:

"Want a good, solid, recent example? Judge Garrecht denied a bail increase requested by the District Attorney's office for the man recently arrested for trying to kill his wife -- a man represented by Kris Hammond."

You are referring to Mr. Cash's case linked below? Still in jail on $500K bail?

I checked at the courthouse. Mr. Cash is not represented by Kris Hammond.

This isn't the first time you have blogged about your imagined conspiracy between Hammond and local judges. Now you have started fabricating facts to support your conspiracy theories. Isn't your post a "good, solid, recent example" of just how far your obsession has gone?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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trump_suit 4 years ago

I have been before Judge Garrecht exactly one time on a small claims case. He listened to both sides, asked intelligent questions, allowed for response and rebuttal by both sides. I found him to be fair and impartial during the one time I have seen him in action.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Shawant,

Well, here's something you won't see Judge Garrecht do. Admit a mistake.

Yes, I guess I made a mistake about Hammond representing Mr. Cash, but that does not change the fact that Judge Garrecht denied the bail increase. Who is representing him? Was that attorney on the committee? Did you bother to check?

What's your take on the vehicular case with the slap on the wrist sentence?

Scott,

When it happens to you, or someone you care about, then you'll understand. You're taking a vision of compassion and assuming it comes with good faith. That's a mistake.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Yes I did check. Cash has Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann. Not on the committee. Obviously, Mr. Cash can't even post the current $500K bail. What goal would be attained by increasing it? Judge Garrecht should be voted out because he won't make the bail even higher? There must be other conspiracies afoot to account for decisions you don't understand.

Actually attending court and hearing the arguments made by the lawyers might be enlightening for you. Bring your camera: you might catch Hammond swinging the pendant and you'd have the proof you've been looking for.

Which vehicular case do you mean?

Obviously you have deep seated resentment against Hammond and the judges. What did they do to you to make you carry on so?

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cntrygirl 4 years ago

Judge Garrecht is a fair & honest judge. I do not believe that he favors anyone. We are luck to have him in Routt county.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Aic, Well, we will have nothing but rookie judges if we think we should get rid of every judge that might have ruled against someone.

If you are so convinced of a real problem then you need to say more than watch out for Judge Garrecht and Kris Hammond.

And since you made such a misleading argument of Judge Garrecht violating federal law since all he did, as a state judge, was side with state law where there is a conflict of the two, then you need to establish credibility of your issues with the Judge.

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stillinsteamboat 4 years ago

I agree with cntrygirl, Judge Garrecht does a fine job. It can't be easy.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Cassandra was the oracle who foretold the fall of Troy. She was given the ability to know the future, but was also cursed that nobody would believe her.

I believe if you look back in the various forum posts, you will find that I was among the first, if not the first, to raise serious questions about the amount of money that Steamboat residents would have to spend to provide the amount of water that would be required by Steamboat 700. I had nothing to gain or lose either way, but I sure do hate to see my friends and neighbors screwed over by people who are in it for a profit and really don't care about the individual rights and the impact on regular people.

I knew about the SB700 concerns because I read the documents, understood them, analyzed them and -- and this is an important part of it -- knew the background of some of the people involved. The eventual vote showed the wisdom of the people in rejecting SB700 for the TRUTH of what it would have done to our community, instead of the vague promises designed to lure people into voting our community into debt to provide water for SB700. Uh, hey, didn't water rates just go up a bunch? It would be much worse in the long run if SB700 had been approved.

In the matter at hand, I urge you to vote against retaining Judge Garrecht, and also, to vote against Judge O'Hara when he comes up for retention. I know how they really operate, but if you'd rather wait until it happens to you, good luck.

Judges are immune from civil prosecution for willful and malicious acts committed under their jurisdiction. That's how our system works, on the theory that it's more important for judges to be able to do their jobs without fear of retaliation. It can also enable judges to do the kinds of things that have been done against me, and unfortunately, exposing a citizen to the mere possibility of civil action based on unlawful rulings in civil court is not a crime. I might have been forced to pay up to settle a real estate deal if I had been forced to sell during this time, but thank God, I was not.

So, some will say, no harm, no foul. In the end justice was done, so what's the problem?

I spent six years with an unlawful judgment lien against my home. Any day, a deputy could have rolled into the driveway to serve a foreclosure notice. It never happened, and now the matter is settled. The lien expired without further action against me.

But, how would you like to spend six years worrying about losing your home? If that doesn't bother you, vote to retain these judges. You deserve to have them in charge of your life, liberty and freedom for six more years.

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Amy Harris 4 years ago

Judge Garrecht is a fine and impartial judge and should be retained. I agree that we are lucky to have him here in Routt County.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aich:

So--because you think you were correct on 700 makes you an authority on judges?

How do you "know how they really operate"?

Judges enter judgments. The party who got the judgment files the lien. Did the judge rule against you based simply on malice and not on the facts and the law? If the judgment was unlawful, why didn't you appeal?

Was this all Hammond's doing?

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Aic, So why didn't you appeal? If the situation was as bad as you say then why wouldn't you have won on appeal?

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bandmama 4 years ago

Visited on with the Judge, years ago right after I moved here. Expired out of state DL. (the state I came from had two or five year exp dates, I THOUGHT I had a five year...whoops.) The man was nice as could be, explained the law in detail and was very professional. AND after I had issues with the local DMV (for some reason the "gentleman" there was having a bad day or something and would not accept my proof of insurance...) This man wrote a little letter stating that YES he would accept it, as it was legal and I was to have my drivers test ASAP so that I could legally pick my child up from school. An extremely good guy!!!!

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aichempty 4 years ago

Shawant and Scott,

Yes, there was an appeal. The opinion was unpublished. It found that in my case, the rules of the court did not apply. If they had, I would have been relieved of the unlawful lien. My attorney was appalled, but that is what happens when the judges decide "you lose, no matter what you do." Apparently the political influence of someone appointed by the Speaker of the House of the Colorado legislature to the judicial review board carries a lot of weight in Denver, too.

People watch too much TV. It doesn't work that way. Wake up. You're living in a county where the rule of law means nothing if you pick the wrong opponent.

This is what people do not understand. Maybe a full page ad in the Pilot a couple of days before the election would be a good idea.

Bandmama, I understand completely, and your story does not surprise me. Judge Garrecht has often been cited for his kindness to people. Does that give him and the others the right to do a favor for a politically hooked-up attorney?

This is where the injustice occurs. The article says that 8% of attorneys and litigants voted "do not retain."

Could it be that 8% of the people who go before Judge Garrecht get the same treatment I did? This is what I'm trying to get out to people. How many people are victimized by the courts along the way, no matter how much good is done. Maybe it's only the ones who don't hire hooked-up attorneys who lose? Could that be it? My history shows it to be true.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aichempty:

So--O'Hara ruled against you and you appealed to the Court of Appeals? And the Colorado Court of Appeals in Denver issued an opinion which holds that "the rules of the court do not apply?" I call BS on that claim. Show us the opinion (unpublished opinions are still written, just not published in the law books).

I'm sure your attorney hated to lose. Did your attorney deflect blame by planting this conspiracy theory in your head? How can you win when Garrecht, O'Hara and the Court of Appeals are under the spell of......who? Hammond?

Here are the members of our District's Judicial Performance Commission:

http://www.coloradojudicialperformance.gov/members.cfm/roster/14

The members of the commission are appointed by either the Governor, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House, or the President of the Senate.

The attorney on the commission who was appointed by the Speaker of the House is J. Richard Tremaine of Steamboat Springs. Was Tremaine the lawyer who represented your opponent in the case you lost?

I thought Hammond was the one pulling the judges' puppet strings. Did Hammond represent your opponent?

You are not making any sense here. Sounds more and more like an elaborate case of sour grapes.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Unpublished just means that the appellate decision is considered legally uninteresting so lawyers should not cite the case in other proceedings. That is so that case law, the decisions that set precedent does not include every case ever decided, but only those that cover new situations or new interpretations. It does not mean the decision is secret. You can email a request to the court of appeals and get the full decision.

I find it rather hard to believe that the Court of Appeals simply said that the rules do not apply and you lose. And so it not just judge Garrecht that is part of this Kris Hammond conspiracy, but also the Court of Appeals and the Speaker of the House? Pretty serious charges. If you want others to believe your story then you are gong to need to get a copy of the court decision of your case and let others see how unfairly you were treated.

Until then, you look like someone that simply cannot accept that he lost a court case and is now blaming the legal system.

I lost a case that Judge Garrecht decided. I was unhappy that I was being charged far more for water and sewer than others while I was using far less water and sewer which violated the ordinance's promise of fair and equitable billing and the Town did not dispute that I was being charged far above average for using well under average but the Judge agreed with the Town that fairness means whatever the Town wants and they can charge more to some for less service. Seems sort of crazy, but so be it. I certainly don't blame some judicial conspiracy for losing that case.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Okay, boys. Now we're talking.

This occurred prior to Tremaine. He's had nothing to do with it.

Unpublished means that the there is not a binding precedent set which should apply to all future cases.

The unpublished opinion stated that a document I filed in the Routt County District Court was not in the format required by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Unfortunately, Rule 5 of CRCP also says that the clerk may not refuse to accept a paper submitted for filing solely because of improper format. It must be accepted as is, but the clerk may require a corrected copy. Neither thing happened. The paper was "lost" and was not "found" until the Appeal. That's when the Court of Appeals said, oh, okay, you filed it, but it didn't meet the formatting requirements, so it was not valid. In my case, a document was filed which informed the Routt County District Court that the very same controversy was currently being litigated in another court, and the rules of the courts required me to submit an exact copy of papers filed in the other court, which were not formatted the same way as required by Colorado. So, it was a Catch-22. If I followed the Colorado format, it would not be an exact copy, and the Court of Appeals would have ruled that I failed to file an exact copy. As it was, they said I didn't give proper notice because I didn't use the Colorado format.

The controversy was over the fact that Judge Garrecht signed an order when he did not have jurisdiction to do so because the case was currently being decided in another court. My CRCP 60 b motion to set aside Judge Garrecht's order on grounds of lack of jurisdiction was denied, which led to the appeal.

Don't you get it? They put a BS justification for not reversing Judge Garrecht's order so that I would lose the case. At that point it was not worth appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court, because in the end, the amount of money at stake was less than one month of a Judge's salary. You don't spend $30,000 to save $10,000.

Also, the other court involved held the matter up until, under Colorado law, it was too late (statute of limitations) for the order which Judge Garrecht signed to be valid. If he had waited until he had jurisdiction, the last date would have passed, and the whole matter would have been moot.

This was also after the opposing party had already lost a court action in another state which was res judicata (already decided) to the whole matter under the laws of the other state. Under federal law, the decision made by the other state court is valid in every other court of the United States. This did not stop the Routt County District Court and Court of Appeals from ignoring what happened in the other court, prior to the order signed by Judge Garrecht.

(continued)

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aichempty 4 years ago

The matter gets very complicated because of all these twists and turns, but the thing you need to know is that the other party lost the case in another state, did not appeal it, let it become final, and came back to Routt County and got a do-over.

Judge O'Hara, despite actually "finding" the lost paper himself, did not take action to vacate Judge Garrecht's order. As Chief Justice, Judge O'Hara has that power.

As for Judge O,Hara, about a year later he also did pretty much the same thing, signing an order involving court costs more than two weeks after the last date to do so had already passed. The same attorney got the benefit. Surprised?

In both of these cases, I filed papers with the credit bureaus which subsequently removed the judgement from my credit records. THEY knew they could be held liable for ruining my credit rating based on a bogus judgment.

So, if you guys want to write to me via the pilot for more information, to actually go to Denver and get a copy of the unpublished opinion to see for yourselves, I'll set it up. I'll also explain why I prefer to remain anonymous to the general public out there, although I assure you that Judge Garrecht, Judge O'Hara and the clerks of the court know exactly who I am and exactly what happened. Somebody could have gone to jail for obstruction of justice if the papers I filed were intentionally suppressed by a court employee, but I did not press the case on the assumption that the Court of Appeals would find in my favor. By the time they released the opinion, and I figured out that I was never going to win, no matter what, the order which Judge O'Hara signed had mysteriously been changed so that the date on the order was clearly after the statute of limitations had expired, which means that it could have never been enforced against me in any court. The paperwork would have never worked because of the accurate dates on the final order. I assumed this was done because somebody "broke" and I guess I was right. Neither of the two orders was ever enforced against me, and now it is too late. It's all over.

Still. Six years of doubt and worry went by.

Why don't the two of you make an appointment with Judge Garrecht to go over the case, including the unpublished opinion, and hear what he has to say?

This is no longer a legal matter. Now it's a non-partisan political matter. If someone cares to drag out my name and the details of the case, I guaran-####ing-t you that every detail will be published in complete detail, and you will be enraged over the way our local courts really operate. If you support Judge Garrecht, shut up and don't give me any more reasons to supply details here. I'm about 1/2 second from doing it anyway, but I'd rather make this about doing something for the good of the community than for the vindication of me -- a nobody -- who in the end never paid a cent of the unlawful claims against me.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

It sounds like you acted as your own lawyer through most of this.

So what did Hammond have to do with any of this? Doesn't he do criminal defense? What benefit did he or his client get?

When did all this happen?

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aichempty 4 years ago

Hammond has nothing to do with my case. Hammond is a former law partner of Judge O'Hara.

Like it or not, Judge Garrecht violated federal law in the Don Nord marijuana case, and he was represented by Hammond.

Do some searching in the Pilot archives and Google Hammond and Garrecht. See how many times Hammond has received favorable rulings from Judge Garrecht in other cases.

This issue is not about my little controversy, which shriveled and died on the vine. It cost me much less in costs and fees than the original claim against me, so in the end, I came out fine.

The issue is that Hammond always seems to get what he wants from Judge Garrecht, even when federal laws are broken. The same thing happened with the attorney who represented the party that was after me. People around here think there's somehow a difference between federal and state laws, but in every case federal law controls where there is a conflict. The problem is that the Department of Justice does not have resources to civilly prosecute state court judges for racketeering every time one of them disregards a federal law in a "pattern and practice" such as that shown by the local judges (at least four of them) in disregarding federal law in order to obtain a benefit for someone trying to use state law to accomplish their goals. Invoking the Colorado law to override the federal controlled substances act is not lawful or constitutional, and neither is attempting to thwart the Supremacy Clause which gives federal law precedence over state laws, or the Full Faith and Credit Act which requires Colorado judges to honor judgments obtained in other states. It applies to civil judgments, domestic relations cases, divorces, child support, and every other case which, when fully litigated to completion in any state, is entitled to full faith and credit in every other court of the United States, be it state, local, federal, territorial, etc.

The spurious liens attached to my property had only one purpose in the end. To make it hard to sell my property with a clear title without paying them. I have it on good authority from attorney friends that this is going on around here all the time, and it involves multiple judges and multiple cases. There is an effort underway to raise this behavior to the attention of the U S Attorney, but the abuses have gone on for many years, and it may take many more before anything is done about it. In the meantime, regular people like you and me get stuck owing money .

Colorado gives voters the power to make changes in judicial seats. We should use it this time.

I trusted Judge Garrecht in the past, having seen him do some incredibly kind and compassionate things in his court that he did not have to do. Why he would ignore the law and allow people to be hurt is beyond me. It had to happen to me before I knew it could happen to me. I thought he would do the right and lawful thing, but I was wrong.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Well, shouldn't take a trip to Denver. Just request the opinion via email and edit out the personal info and make it available.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

I still don't understand your point---Hammond got a favorable ruling on the Nord case and that proves that he has control over Garrecht, O'Hara and the Colorado Court of Appeals? Are you serious?

Nord was facing State criminal charges--he was never charged with a violation of federal law. The state constitution gave him a total defense and the right to the return of his grow equipment and mmj. The State prosecutor dismissed all criminal charges against Nord. Nord still wanted his mmj back. Garrecht ordered them to return the mmj as required by the Colorado Constitution. The GRAMNET agents claimed that they had been deputized as federal drug agents and therefore had the case removed to federal court on "federal party" jurisdiction. In the meantime, the US Supreme Court ruled (in a California case) that State mmj legality did not protect people from prosecution under Federal marijuana laws. The Federal judge ruled against Nord based on that Supreme Court decision, and ordered that GRAMNET didn't have to return the mmj. (BTW, GRAMNET's descendant, ACET, has no Federal DEA officer to deputize the local cops as Feds)

As a voting, taxpaying citizen of Routt County, Colorado, I want my locally nominated, state appointed and locally retained State court judge to uphold the Colorado State Constitution over conflicting Federal law.

If a State judge doesn't take a stand on that issue, who else can? Are you saying that the voters in a State can not enact a law that conflicts with a Federal Statute (we will spend no state taxpayer money prosecuting medical marijuana patients)?

And if there is no Federal Statute (gay marriage/age of consent/age to get a drivers license/requirements to get a medical/law/accounting degree)?

I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea that we can't solve local problems locally, but have to rely on Washington. Sounds like Washington has a lot more laws to enact.

The Federal government should put the States in their places, and start second-guessing County Court Judges all over the nation and sue them whenever the Feds don't like the way the State judges are ruling.

No Thanks Big Brother.

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aichempty 4 years ago

I don't have an electronic copy. That's one way they make it hard to get the information. A copy has to be requested from the Clerk of the Court of Appeals in Denver. You need to feel the pain of dealing with this bull$#!+ to understand what's going on.

Shawant,

You are ignorant, friend. Judge Garrecht held the officers in contempt of court for failing to return Nord's contraband marijuana. It was a federal judge in Denver who issued the order overturning Garrecht's contempt order against the officers.

Your local laws are inferior to federal law, That's the constitution. It protects you from spurious actions in other states, too. Suppose somebody sues you in Colorado and you win. It's federal law that prevents them from suing you in another state where they happen to find you, like when you're on vacation in Florida. You'd be faced with lawsuits in every state and you'd win some and lose some and where would that leave you? It would leave you where I was for six years, with one court saying I was free and clear and the Routt County District Court saying I was on the hook.

The federal government could easily withhold federal funding from Colorado over the medical marijuana law. They have only chosen not to enforce the law that's on the books. Marijuana in all forms is still illegal under federal law, and that's how it stands. A lawsuit such as the one in Arizona over the immigration law could be used against Colorado and other states regarding marijuana, too.

Conflicts like this leave people in an uncertain position, as I was left for six years. It also costs more money for the state because of repetitive actions in the state courts that consume time and labor hours. It takes a lot of time and trouble to take away someone's rights when they fight back, like I did. If the Colorado courts had followed the law in the first place, at least seven different legal actions would have not taken place. Maybe the case load the judges complain about is some of their fault for not following the law.

If you think state law will protect you, you are wrong. The courts don't even follow that unless it suits them. That's how they wear people down, or make it too expensive to protect your rights. If this is how you think, then sadly, I hope you find out in person how it works, and then you'll be willing to vote out the judges who are responsible for it.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Shawant,

The connection with Hammond is that he has made a lot of personal profit, both financial and "political" (as in the Nord case) from Judge Garrecht's rulings. It's like Nancy Pelosi endorsing Barack Obama. Fluff. Propaganda.

Where was my survey? Why didn't anybody ask me? Duh.

8% is a large number of people to be dissatisfied. Let's hear what those people have to say. Where are their interviews, statements, surveys, etc., posted for us to review?

I'm going to leave you with one fact you cannot not deny.

This thread has been going on for several days now. The Pilot is liable for false claims which are published on this website. So am I, if I knowingly publish a lie. This is true even when the game is politics.

Slander and libel deal with the publishing of knowingly false information that would tend to injure someone's reputation, livelihood, etc.

The fact is, I am telling the truth.

If I am not telling the truth, then why hasn't somebody done something about it?

Freedom of speech is a federally protected right. Lying about someone to cause them to be removed from office by the voters is not a protected right.

If judges are going to decide that laws don't apply to certain people when it suits them, then those judges need to leave office, or we are not ever going to be equal under the law. That's what happened to me. I am not entitled to equal treatment by our judges, and the proof is in the records of the courts.

What happens if you are next? Think about it.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aichempty:

"I'm going to leave you with one fact you cannot not deny. This thread has been going on for several days now."

You got me there.

Let me leave you with my opinion: Half the parties who go to court lose. You lost, but no harm came to you. Blaming the boogeymen for your loss makes you sound like a sore loser. Don't ever represent yourself in court again.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Shawant,

You really are something. Do you realize what you said? You said that a person cannot win a court case without paying a lawyer. Doesn't that enrage you? Have you ever had a speeding ticket? Did you hire a lawyer to represent you?

How about the local kid whose family had to pay Kris Hammond $40,000 to defend him because he fought back against a group of bullies, who confronted him in a group, because of his RACE! Why wasn't that case thrown out? Think about it.

Honest people who appear before honest judges on their own behalf, tell the truth and provide documentary evidence to back them up have nothing to fear.

Honest people who appear before corrupt judges cannot win, no matter who they hire.

I have paid several local lawyers to appear on my behalf, and you might be interested to know that under Colorado law, you can hire a lawyer to help you prepare your own case without them actually going to court as your representative.

No harm came to me? Oh, rethink that one. I was denied a mortgage because of this. My name was dragged through the mud in public because of this. Every time a law enforcement vehicle came around I thought I was about to be served with foreclosure papers (the most recent one stopped to ask for directions, looking for someone else). I was not "free" to enjoy the same benefits of our society as other people were because of the unlawful liens. I had to do things which did not require taking out loans because, in order to get a loan, I would have had to pay the unlawful debt. This is how such liens are used to extort payment from people who don't really owe anything to anyone. Some say it's a cost of doing business. Yeah, doing business with racketeers and with organized crime.

I walked into a courtroom to represent myself one time during this controversy, and on that occasion, I WON. Not surprisingly, it was in another state. This was a collection action they tried against me while I was working in another state, and when I showed up prepared to give evidence of fraud as a defense to the action, nobody from the other side showed up in court. They LOST, and the findings of the court were allowed to become final, without an appeal. In response, the attorney on the other side came back to Routt County and got a judge to rule that the out of state action never really took place, claiming it was withdrawn. If you know anything about how legal procedure works, you would know that once an action has been filed and a defendant has responded by filing a pleading in the case, the case can only be withdrawn with the agreement of all parties.

Indeed, Shawant, it WAS a conspiracy against me by an attorney and a judge and probably others working in the courthouse because of later actions which were taken to advance the case. A conspirator is anyone who acts in furtherance of the unlawful action.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

I didn't say that everyone should hire a lawyer. Just you.

The juvenile that you refer to...didn't the State have a lawyer who was being paid to convict him?

Would you have let your 13-year-old son, facing felony charges, represent himself?

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aichempty 4 years ago

(continued)

Shawant, I have worked closely with three different Steamboat attorneys who are honest, ethical, and do their jobs as the law requires. I've had "dealings" with three other Colorado attorneys who use their law licenses to defeat the law whenever possible, questioning every point of law, running up legal fees, and trying to win through financial intimidation.

Neither the legal or judicial professions are the self-policing organizations they claim to be.

My purpose in all of this is the same it was for SB700; to inform the community of problems which THEY CAN SOLVE AT THE BALLOT BOX.

The Pilot could do a lot more to cover legal matters in town, but that would require having an honest attorney with nothing to lose who could convey the stories to the people. The legal profession, in general, profits from what the common man does not know. If we just had someone around here who could tell the truth -- and not fear from legal consequences of proving that they're telling the truth -- we'd all be more informed and better off in the long run. When people put themselves into a position of making a living on the public payroll, they have a duty to the public to serve the public interest. Padding the pockets of attorneys who can help them hold onto the tax-paid salary is not in the public interest.

90% or more of what our courts do is good, honest and reasonable. It's that other 10% where people are victimized using the power of the state. Why do we keep paying them to screw people? I have to believe it's because the voters don't know any better, and that's what I'm going to try to change.

The only thing I'm after is the truth, and to have it known by everybody. If the truth hurts, maybe it should. We don't owe any judge, clerk or attorney a job. They owe us a duty of protecting the innocent from the guilty, and to apply the laws as the legislature writes them, and to protect us as our state and federal constitutions require.

When this thread started, I did not know how much time I would have to devote to making some things happen. There's a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

It's not about Judge Garrecht alone. I wish he wasn't involved in the whole mess, but he is, and it was his choice to do what he did. At least seven judges were involved at one time or another, and if they suffer from the truth of their words in print and their actions on the bench, they have only themselves to blame.

Thanks for pushing me over the edge. It's about time ;-) The life-savings you save could be your own.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Hey, nice retort there Shawant. Yo' Mama.

The lawyers I've paid to represent me in this controversy advised me to pay up and move on, because that would be the cheapest thing to do. Yeah, I did indeed hire an attorney who told me to give up. The attorney on the other side, at the time this was all going on, DID NOT LOSE in our local courts. Legal fees and court costs for a jury trial would have cost six times the amount of the claim against me. So, I sat it out.

There was a previous history between the judge and the lawyer on the other side. Court records and judicial review committee findings support it. That's how I know the review process is a racket. That's why I could not have won.

It is still within the power of Judge Garrecht and Judge O'Hara to go back and make things right. I'm not asking for that. The time for that would have been when it would have served the interests of justice. .

I don't want a thing for myself. I don't plan to make a cent.. I am already blessed, and I don't need or want a reward for sticking up for innocent people.

There was another defendant in this controversy who I am pretty sure did end up paying the whole amount claimed, but they believe it was only "half." This is based on some knowledge of details, but I do not know for a fact that it is true. I believe that an investigation would easily reveal the truth. I do know that the matter was allowed to remain on the records without a "satisfaction of judgment" being entered. If that is true, it may get real nasty. Like, disbarment. At least. Maybe the U S Attorney will take notice. There are other people around working behind the scenes to bring local matters to the attention of the Department of Justice, and my friend, once that happens, you ain't gonna believe what comes out.

One reason for my anonymity is that the other defendant does not want the attention, and there's no way to take their name off the papers. That's a shame, but it's been a long time, and they don't live here anymore. Sorry, friend. I tried to keep you out of it.

This whole thing is about a Colorado attorney who was, in the end, unable to intimidate a common, average person. I told him that I would never, ever pay. We're now at least five layers down into unlawful orders and opinions that cannot be taken back. Why would so many judges take a risk on something so small? There must be a story here. My part of it is going to be told, and I guess the rest will be up to others to either take action, or decide it's not worth the money to pursue. That's justice in America. You get what you pay for.

Wanna hear some more? Prod me again.

Nah, don't bother. I'm done here. My course is clear. Mass media is the way to go now. Ciao!

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trump_suit 4 years ago

Anyone that has followed Aich's response to the MMJ threads will understand that once Judge Garrecht ruled in favor of the Colorado MMJ Statute instead of the harsher Federal law, he bacame a useless individual in Aich's world.

You can see the proof of this above: Why else would Aich bring up that particular incident in relationship to his own. It is my opinion that anyone who disagree's with Aich on the whole MMJ issue become useless an foolish in his world and is no longer thought of as a reasonable human being.

His opinion of the legal system has to be looked at thru that lens.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Trump,

Quite the contrary, mon ami. Judge Garrecht's action against me was long before the MMJ controversy arose.

Also, the order directing the Department of Justice not to prosecute MMJ users who were operating in accordance with state law came after the Nord case.

Memory problems?

But, since you bring it up (and WOW, thanks for the opportunity to roll out some more information regarding this thread), Kris Hammond represented both Don Nord and the young man whose parents had to pay $40,000 to Hammond to keep their son out of jail.

If you read Hammond's comments reported by the Pilot in the Don Nord case, you will find that Hammond implied he was either doing some of the work for free, or at a greatly reduced rate.

So, isn't it interesting that Hammond would apparently charge reduced rates to defend a marijuana user who violated even the Colorado regulations by having too much on hand, but then charged full price to keep a hate crime victim out of jail? What does that tell you about Hammond? Just consider the two cases and form your own opinion.

If our local judiciary is so mindful of these issues, so helpful, and so caring, then why wasn't the juvenile's case dropped and allowed to go to the civil courts where it belonged in the first place. Well, is it possible that the school may have been negligent in allowing the bullying. OH, wait! That's right! Isn't someone close to Judge Garrecht involved with the school board? What was I THINKING?

And by the way, all through the MMJ thread, I NEVER said that medical marijuana should not be legal. I support legalization for medicinal purposes, but not for abuse, just like any other narcotic or psychoactive substance. As a matter of fact, I have a relative who may need chemo, and the idea of coming out here to live in my home so it can be obtained without fear has already been raised.

Don't twist my words. I'll straighten them out and shoot them back at you.

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aichempty 4 years ago

For the record, I have opinions from attorneys practicing in Colorado and in two other states that federal law has barred any further action against me in this matter since the outcome of the out of state action entered in my favor was allowed to become a final, enforceable judgment under the laws of the state where it was decided. The action was filed against me in the other state by the same plaintiff who obtained the rulings against me in Colorado.

I have had financial and property interests in two other states which could have been attached to collect the amount claimed if that was a legal course of action. My salary could have been garnished in two other states while all this was going on if there was a valid judgment against me.

Having a record in the local books against me was a way to harass me and cause problems if I tried to buy or sell property in Colorado. I avoided that problem by doing business elsewhere.

This is all true, and not believing it doesn't make it untrue. Trotting out the court papers to prove I'm wrong would only prove that I'm right.

Use your power to vote and make changes. It will improve life for everyone in this county. Removing two, or hopefully three judges in 10 years in this county ought to send a loud message, and we will all benefit from it.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

You believe in a conspiracy which you have still failed to articulate. Believing it doesn't make it true--it's just your opinion. You are obsessed. Knock yourself out. Maybe the voters of our District will rally and get the revenge you so desperately crave. Then a new, unknown person will be appointed judge and you won't have a complaint until Hammond wins one with the new judge.

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aichempty 4 years ago

I am compelled to add to this thread regarding Mr. Hammond's role in the process.

Mr. Hammond is an excellent attorney with a good reputation and no record of impropriety against him. He is an advocate for his clients. That is his job. Serving on the judicial review committee and giving Judge Garrecht a positive recommendation does not violate any rules. He has done nothing in this regard which is prohibited in any way.

Maybe that's the problem. In any other sort of legal proceeding, a judge would be required to recuse himself from official matters involving Mr. Hammond. It would be a conflict of interest in any other case. So, why not in this case? That's one of the problems with the process.

The judicial review process does not provide any means for people like me to appear, give evidence, and influence the results of the committees. Basically, it runs like a high school electing a homecoming queen.

There is absolutely no "policing" of the judiciary in this state except for the retention vote entrusted to the citizens.

It may never make a difference to 99.9% of the people in this state. However, if you have ever been divorced, paid child support, signed a contract, taken out a loan, driven a car on the highways or done anything except rent a house and walk back and forth to your job watching ducks swimming on a pond, you run the risk of going to court.

Anybody can sue anyone for anything. That's when the fairness and impartiality of the judges comes into play. The difference between a case that has merit and a case that is frivolous and groundless can come down to a single day when you either take the required action, or wait one day too late and forfeit your right to either sue someone or defend against someone who is suing you.

A case only has "merit" when there is a question to be settled in accordance with the law, and, it is not barred by the statute of limitations or some other matter of law (such as constitutional requirements which govern all proceedings under the law).

Most people who claim that judges and lawyers are corrupt are simply crazy folks who don't know the law. Most of them have lost fair and square, and just don't like it.

There are situations where it can be demonstrated conclusively that a judge has acted as an advocate for one side or the other in a civil case. I have proof that very thing happened to me, for the benefit of an attorney who served in the same position that Mr. Hammond filled in the current judicial review committee. Four separate judges have joined in, two of them are still full-time active judges in our local courts, and they are Judge Garrecht and Judge O'Hara.

There is nothing lawful I can do to them except speak out and warn other people about their failure to follow the law. If they made mistakes, they were made aware of the mistakes, and have done nothing to correct them. It's that simple.

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Kristopher Hammond 4 years ago

Aichempty:

Here is a link to the FAQ section on the Judicial Performance website. Some of your concerns are addressed there.

http://www.coloradojudicialperformance.gov/faqs.cfm

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aichempty 4 years ago

Shawant,

Thanks for keeping the discourse "civil" ;-)

I am familiar with the Judicial Performance website. I've been familiar with it since 2000 or earlier.

Our laws are based upon an assumption of good faith. That means it is assumed that the laws are going to be obeyed as written, however, in many cases there are no penalties assessed for failure to follow the law. This is different from the criminal code where specific crimes are defined. A "civil" lawsuit is the only way to go after failures to act in good faith, and guess what? Judges are immune from civil lawsuits.

Most state chartered boards are required to have open meetings, such as our county commission, city council and school board (remember the flap over that "closed meeting" lawsuit by the Pilot?). Where were the announcements regarding the open meetings held by the judicial review committee?

There are several provisions in the law which allow people to get away with twisting the law to aid them. For example, a member of a state chartered board who acts in good faith based upon advice from a licensed attorney or accountant cannot be held personally liable for actions taken in that regard. But, what if the attorney who's giving the advice gives advice which conflicts with the law? Does the attorney get in trouble? No. Then it becomes a matter to be settled by the courts. This little twist in the law allows attorneys who do not act truthfully, in good faith, to help state chartered boards screw common people. "Make them sue us," is the motto in many cases, and this is how people without money to spend on lawyers have their rights denied using the power of the state.

So, being familiar with the Judicial Performance process, it is really meaningless without a way to compare adherence to the law and base the ratings on the things that matter the most. If 8% of the people who appear in a judge's court are wrongfully burdened or deprived of their rights, who cares if 92% were not?

Would you want a system where more than 50% of litigants have to be treated unlawfully before a judge could be removed? I think that one bona-fide case which makes it through the appeals process without being corrected along the way is enough justification to remove every judge who touched the case and could have corrected the unlawful acts committed using the power of the state. Any other person licensed by the state who harmed someone through neglect or willful action (physician, dentist, structural engineer, architect, etc.) would lose their license in order to protect the public. Isn't disbarment appropriate for a judge who does something willfully and intentionally in violation of the law in his official capacity?

If the judicial profession was really self-policing, the things that happened to me would not have happened.

Look up the definitions of "racketeering," because that's much closer to what really goes on when judges decide not to follow the law.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

But, what if the attorney who's giving the advice gives advice which conflicts with the law? Does the attorney get in trouble? No.

Actually, the state bar association can investigate and disbar an attorney for giving sufficiently bogus legal advice. Bush admin attorney John Yoo was investigated for his memos saying that anything less than organ failure was not torture.

If 8% of the people who appear in a judge's court are wrongfully burdened or deprived of their rights, who cares if 92% were not?

So then it would appear it is the system that is at fault even if a particular judge is doing a good job. It would appear that the way to solve your issues would be to go to the legislature and have them correct the laws. Replacing individual judges will do nothing to improve the situation as you see it because the next judge will still be bound by the same unjust laws.

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aichempty 4 years ago

Scott,

Once again, the way an attorney gets in trouble is to have a judge find against him and award costs to the other party. Want to know how I know that? It's because I went through the attorney grievance process and spoke directly to an attorney who works for the Colorado Supreme Court, which administers the attorney discipline program.

Basically, I was told that they don't act on individual complaints because there are so many of them. An award of costs to an opposing party is an indication that the judge found the attorney's performance to be frivolous, groundless,incompetent, etc.

So, how do you get a judgment for costs against an attorney who is already getting unlawful orders entered on his behalf? Puzzle me that one, Grasshopper.

The system at fault is the entire system, and what kind of people sit in the legislature? Mostly, attorneys.

Both systems are meaningless (judicial review and attorney grievance). If you look at the sanctions entered against attorneys in Colorado, you will find they are for substance abuse, abandonment of a client during litigation, diversion of trust account funds for personal use, and failure to pay child support. Lying and getting away with it does not make the list.

The problem you have is that you understand the system from an abstract point of view, in accordance with the written laws, when in fact, some attorneys spend most of their time trying to get a judge to ignore the law -- meaning to "interpret the law" in their favor even when the argument has no merit.

The legislature has given us a way to make changes in the courts. They have not provided a public forum to air complaints and have them addressed on points of law for all to see in support of the retention vote.

You cannot find a hole in this situation that makes it my fault. I've got excellent legal advice from three separate attorneys who support my arguments. Again, if I was not telling the truth, someone would have already had my posts removed, or the editors would have done it.

50% of the attorneys in a court room are trying to convince a jury that the other side is lying, while the other 50% is trying to convince a jury that their client is telling the truth. Confusing the argument is their job. The judicial review process is not designed to reveal breaches of the law, because it is assumed that judges follow the law. That's a demonstrably poor assumption, and I've got the paperwork to prove it.

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lenny gawlinski 2 years, 7 months ago

I think he always believes the arresting officers and is unfair because of that. Its the cops word against your word in his court. In my case he did not believe a word that I said. If there would have been a dash camera on when I was pulled over and arrested I could have proven that the cop did not tell the truth in the case . Even my lawyer told me that the judge and the officer were good buddy's days before the first hearing . I have learned and hope I will not be in court ever again . if I have to I will not take a plea bargain and will have my peers decide in a trial .

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