Final Recommendation

The Honorable

Sarah C. Backus

District Court Judge
8th Judicial District --
Colfax, Taos, and Union Counties

Year: 2014

Recommendation: Retain

Election Results: Retained

Evaluation: Judge Sarah Backus received positive ratings from both attorneys and resource staff (e.g., law enforcement, probation and parole officers, interpreters, etc.). Attorneys rated her highly for demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench, being attentive to the proceedings and for ruling on motions or cases in a timely manner. She received somewhat lower ratings from the court staff, some of whom rated her lower for not respecting all court employees regardless of their position. Resource staff rated Judge Backus highly in all areas. Although this evaluation indicated some weaknesses, the judge expressed a commitment to improving her judicial performance.

Experience & Education: Judge Backus was appointed District Judge in 2011 and elected in 2012. Prior to her appointment, Judge Backus worked for 27 years in both private practice and government service. During her legal career, she worked as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. She served as Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial District Court from August 2011 to January 2014 and presides over both criminal and civil cases. Judge Backus received her undergraduate degree from California State University, Sacramento and her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1984.

PERCENTAGE THAT AGREE OR DISAGREE THAT THE JUDGE EXHIBITS POSITIVE QUALITIES IN EACH CATEGORY *

Attorneys (n=57, 54% Response Rate)
Category Agree Partly Agree/ Partly Disagree Disagree
Exhibits Integrity 87% 6% 8%
Fair and Impartial 87% 5% 8%
Knowledgeable of Law 84% 9% 7%
Communication is Clear 84% 13% 3%
Appropriate Demeanor 90% 7% 3%
Properly Controls Proceedings 92% 4% 4%
Respects Court Employees N/A N/A N/A
Court Staff (n=23, 92% Response Rate)
Category Agree Partly Agree/ Partly Disagree Disagree
Exhibits Integrity 60% 30% 10%
Fair and Impartial N/A N/A N/A
Knowledgeable of Law N/A N/A N/A
Communication is Clear N/A N/A N/A
Appropriate Demeanor N/A N/A N/A
Properly Controls Proceedings N/A N/A N/A
Respects Court Employees 43% 19% 38%
Jurors (n=11, 31% Response Rate)
Category Agree Partly Agree/ Partly Disagree Disagree
Exhibits Integrity 100% 0% 0%
Fair and Impartial 93% 7% 0%
Knowledgeable of Law N/A N/A N/A
Communication is Clear 100% 0% 0%
Appropriate Demeanor 100% 0% 0%
Properly Controls Proceedings 100% 0% 0%
Respects Court Employees N/A N/A N/A
Category Agree Partly Agree/ Partly Disagree Disagree
Exhibits Integrity 96% 4% 0%
Fair and Impartial 94% 6% 0%
Knowledgeable of Law N/A N/A N/A
Communication is Clear 96% 4% 0%
Appropriate Demeanor 96% 4% 0%
Properly Controls Proceedings 96% 4% 0%
Respects Court Employees N/A N/A N/A

* On the tables above, the "Agree" columns are comprised of the strongly agree and agree responses. Similarly, the "Disagree" columns are comprised of the strongly disagree and disagree responses. The combined percentage of "Agree", "Disagree", and "Partly Agree/Partly Disagree" for each category may not equal 100% due to rounding error. "N/A" indicates that the category is "not applicable" because some populations were not asked certain questions.

 

PERCENTAGE THAT RECOMMEND THE JUDGE BE RETAINED OR NOT BE RETAINED IN OFFICE. ‡

‡ On the charts above, the "Retain" columns are comprised of the strongly recommend retain and somewhat recommend retain responses. Similarly, the "Do Not Retain" columns are comprised of the strongly recommend not retain and somewhat recommend not retain responses.

 

Back to top