Michael Bender

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Michael Bender
CO bender.jpg
Court Information:
Colorado Supreme Court
Title:   Former justice
Appointed by:   Gov. Roy Romer
Active:   1997-2014
Chief:   2010-2014
Succeeded by:   William W. Hood
Past post:   Attorney, Michael L. Bender, P.C.
Past term:   1993-1997
Past post 2:   Attorney, Bender & Treece, P.C.
Past term 2:   1983-1993
Personal History
Born:   1/7/1942
Undergraduate:   Dartmouth College, 1964
Law School:   University of Colorado School of Law, 1967
Grad. School:   Georgetown Law Center, 1967

Michael L. Bender was the chief justice of the seven member Colorado Supreme Court. He was nominated by his peers to serve as chief justice on December 1, 2010 following the retirement of Mary Mullarkey. He was first appointed to the court in the state's Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection by Governor Roy Romer in 1997. Justice Bender was successfully retained in 2000 and in 2010.[1][2] He retired from the bench on January 7, 2014, when he reached the state's mandatory retirement age of 72.[3]


Bender earned his undergraduate from Dartmouth College in 1964. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1967, the same year in which he also attended the Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure, Masters Program at Georgetown Law Center and the Barrett E. Prettyman Fellowship Training.[2]


  • 1997-2014: Justice, Colorado Supreme Court
  • 1993-1997: Attorney, Michael L. Bender, P.C.
  • 1983-1993: Attorney, Bender & Treece, P.C.
  • 1981-1986: Faculty Member, University of Denver College of Law
  • 1979-1980: Attorney, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • 1975-1979: Public Defender, Jefferson County, Colorado
  • 1974-1975: Associate Regional Attorney, Denver Regional Litigation Center Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • 1968-1971: Deputy State Public Defender[2]

Awards and associations


  • 2006: Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award, Colorado School of Law
  • 2000: Outstanding Judicial Officer of the Year
  • 1990: Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • 1988: Co-winner, Denver Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Year
  • 1967: Faculty Award for Outstanding Student Work, University of Colorado Law Review[2]


  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Chief Justice's Commission on the Legal Professions, 2010-Present
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Fairness and Diversity Committee, 2010-Present
  • Liaison, Judicial Discipline Commission, 2009
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Planning and Analysis Standing Committee, 2008-2010
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Water Court Standing Committee, 2008-2009
  • Chair, Colorado Judicial Code of Conduct Revision Committee, 2007-2009
  • Chair, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standards Committee, Government Access to Third Party Records, 2007-Present
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Judicial Ethics Advisory Board, 2006-Present
  • Chair, Judicial Building Steering Committee for the New Ralph Carr Justice Center, 2006-Present
  • Chair, Jury Reform Standing Committee, 2006-Present
  • Board Member, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, 2006-2010
  • Adjunct professor, University of Colorado School of Law, Professional Ethics, 2004-2007
  • Co-Chair, Colorado Supreme Court, Standing Committee of Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, 2003-2010
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Caseflow Leadership Taskforce, 2002
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado Judicial Branch Mentoring Committee, 2001-2003
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Committee on Ethical Issues in Family Law, 2000-2003
  • Member, University of Colorado School of Law, Alumni Board 1999-2001
  • Member, Governor's Task Force on Civil Justice Reform, 1999
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Public Education Committee, 1998-2005
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado’s Attorney Fund for Client Protection, 1998-2010
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, 1997-2010
  • Member, Colorado Supreme Court, Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee, 1997-2010
  • Co-Chair, Colorado Supreme Court, Committee to Review and Revise Attorney Regulation System, 1997-1998
  • Member, American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Standards Committee, 1997-2000
  • Member, U.S. District Court Committee for Criminal Justice Act for District of Colorado, 1991-1993
  • Chair, American Bar Association, Criminal Section, 1990
  • Board of Directors, Colorado Trial Lawyer’s Association, 1985-1987
  • Board of Directors, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 1984-1991
  • Board of Governors, Colorado Bar Association, 1980-1982, 1989-1991[2]



Colorado Supreme Court, Associate Justice
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Michael Bender Green check mark transparent.png 872,387 60.4%
Against retention 571,029 39.6%
  • Click here for 2010 General Election Results from the Colorado Secretary of State.
Main article: Colorado judicial elections, 2010

Performance Evaluations

The Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation voted 7-1 to recommend Bender for retention. The COJPE reviews the answers of attorneys and District Judges and asked a variety of questions to determine the Judge's performance. The score is rated on a 4 point scale similar to school grades. Since 1990, which was the first election year after the statutory creation of judicial performance commissions and the use of performance evaluations, all Colorado Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges standing for retention have received do retain recommendations.[4] Until 2010 no additional information on judicial performance has been made available to the public.

Question classification Attorney score District Judge score Combined average
Impartiality 3.24 3.47 3.36
Clear opinions 3.27 3.38 3.33
Adequate explanation of opinion 3.32 3.47 3.4
Timely response 3.26 3.29 3.28
Response without criticism 3.51 3.61 3.56
Response based on law 3.16 3.4 3.28
Not ruling on extra issues 3.07 3.35 3.21
Respect towards all parties 3.66 3.75 3.71
No ex parte communications 3.74 3.81 3.78
Overall 3.36 3.36 3.36

Political affiliation

Judge Michael Bender is currently listed as "nonpartisan." Because Colorado does not hold elections, but rather judges are selected on merit by the governor, he has no campaign contributions.[2]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Bender received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -0.8, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is more liberal than the average CF score of -0.29 that justices received in Colorado. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[6]

See also

External links


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