Court To Denver Judge: Don’t Try To Date Litigants

At a restaurant, it would be movie material. In court, it’s another matter.  Denver Magistrate Robert E. Gilbert apparently didn’t get the memo informing him that judges aren’t supposed to try to date the people trying cases before them.  Yes, being a judge is a good way to meet people, but there are boundaries.

He received a public reprimand Monday from state judicial branch officials according to the Rocky Mountain News, after asking small claims defendant Rena Rodriguez for a date in a written note, while she was trying a case before him, and then following up his written request with four follow up cell phone messages.  Attorney regulation officials had asked that his license be suspended, but he received a lesser punishment.According to the Rocky Mountain News, Gilbert has been married for 37 years and is also a magistrate in Eagle County.

The New quoted the official prosecuting the case as saying:

Men sometimes do crazy things, particularly where women are involved . . . [Gilbert had] ample opportunity to see [Rodriguez], and he liked what he saw.

Rena Rodriguez lost her case before Magistrate Gilbert, and the Magistrate’s misconduct doesn’t necessarily mean that the small claims case ruling against her is invalid, although the issue could be raised in a separate appeal, if she pursued one.  Gilbert has 60 days to appeal the ruling against him.

Magistrates are appointed by the presiding judge of the court, rather than receiving appointments from the Governor and facing retention elections.  Their dismissals are governed by state judicial system rules, and these attorney disciplinary sanctions would probably be sufficient grounds to terminate Gilbert’s employment for cause, if the presiding judge wished to do so.