Judge Anne Kathryn Woods

La Plata County Court Judge Anne Kathryn Woods

La Plata County Court Judge Anne Kathryn Woods resigned her seat on Wednesday after being the only state judge voters chose not to retain in this year's general election based on the unofficial results. 

In her resignation email to Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright, Woods alluded to her own missteps, as well as inaccurate perceptions of her work within the community.

"It has been a very, very challenging journey for me (some of which has been my own doing, some of which has been misinformation from small town media/word of mouth and lack of support from the 6th judicial district)," Woods wrote. "Also, because the voters have spoken and do not want me representing the community, I would like to step down as soon as possible instead of serving out the remaining term of my appointment."

Woods was one of 135 judges who stood for retention across the state this year. Citizen-led performance commissions found all 135 had met the performance standards used to evaluate judges. 

At the same time, Woods was the first judge since 2010 to be non-retained despite receiving a favorable evaluation, according to the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation.

The Sixth Judicial District's performance commission found, by 6-3, Woods met performance standards. Its narrative to voters further indicated Woods, a former public defender, had improved during her time on the bench.

However, Woods' ratings from attorneys and non-attorneys were lower than for other county court judges. Her retention also received an unusual degree of interest — 90 responses — compared to county court judges in jurisdictions with populations similar to La Plata County.

"The public still may be partially anchored on the view that Judge Woods is a pro-defense judge," the performance commission wrote.

In an email to The Durango Herald on Wednesday, Woods believed voters were "fed cherry-picked facts about a few sensationalized cases," and suggested the newspaper was responsible for disseminating misinformation.

Woods was a 2020 appointee of Gov. Jared Polis. The Herald previously reported that she emphasized rehabilitation over punishment in her sentencing. At the same time, the chief judge of the judicial district, in November 2021, effectively precluded her from setting bail for criminal defendants in felony cases. The paper noted concerns about Woods granting bail at low amounts, but the chief judge's order made no explicit connection to Woods' actions.

Although Woods' work as a judge drew criticism, some residents of La Plata County came to her defense during the retention election.

"Woods has made life better for countless people by treating them fairly and, in many cases, allowing them to keep their jobs, keep their housing and to address the underlying issues that brought them before her in the first place," wrote Scott M. Wilson of Durango in The Durango Telegraph.

As of Thursday morning, Woods' retention vote stood at 48.8% "yes" and 51.2% "no" out of more than 23,700 ballots cast. A spokesperson for the state's Judicial Department said Woods' resignation prior to the certification of the results would not affect the validity of the vote.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the chief judge's order affecting Woods' ability to set bail.

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