Ex-judge who ended up in hotel with lawyer after bar gathering gets censure for sexual propositions

  • Print

shutterstock_Colorado Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court has publicly censured a former judge for repeatedly propositioning a lawyer during an informal gathering at a state bar event. Image from Shutterstock.

A former Colorado judge who acknowledges that his judgment was impaired by alcohol during an informal gathering at a state bar event has been publicly censured for repeatedly propositioning a lawyer there.

The former judge is Judge Lance P. Timbreza, who resigned his position as a Mesa County, Colorado, district judge after the June 2022 incident, according to an April 24 decision by a special tribunal of the Colorado Supreme Court. and Colorado Politics have coverage.

According to stipulated facts, Timbreza thought that his overtures to the attorney were welcome during the informal social gathering of eight people. Several witnesses, however, said the attorney at first appeared comfortable but then appeared more uncomfortable and tense as the event progressed.

Timbreza and the lawyer are gay, a fact deemed to be irrelevant by the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline. But it was included in the stipulated facts at Timbreza’s request.

Timbreza showed the male attorney a photo of a naked gay porn actor during the evening, thinking that he had permission to do so. The attorney, who is younger and a less experienced lawyer than Timbreza, maintains that he didn’t give permission and didn’t welcome Timbreza’s advances.

The lawyer “made best efforts to politely decline [former] Judge Timbreza’s overtures instead of forcefully rejecting them,” according to the stipulated facts. At the end of the evening, Timbreza went to the lawyer’s hotel room.

On the way, Timbreza kissed the lawyer, who didn’t want the kiss but did not tell Timbreza no. Nor did the lawyer tell expressly tell Timbreza no when they entered the lawyer’s hotel room.

“What happened next is unclear,” according to the stipulation. The lawyer “has been emotional when discussing this case and has been unwilling or unable to disclose what happened in the hotel room.”

Timbreza maintains that he laid in bed and fell asleep for four hours before leaving early the next morning.

Timbreza “acknowledges that due to his alcohol consumption on the night in question, his judgment and his ability to objectively perceive events were compromised,” according to the stipulation. “In light of the investigation in this case, he sees now that his propositions were not welcome, and that his conduct was inappropriate.”

Timbreza admits that he abused the prestige of his office, engaged in conduct that created an appearance of impropriety, and violated an ethics rule banning sexual harassment. In addition to receiving a public censure, he is required to pay more than $20,000 in attorney fees.

Timbreza was previously publicly censured and suspended without pay for 28 days for driving while impaired by alcohol, according to He also received a private censure for delay in the performance of his judicial duties.

According to Colorado Politics, the Colorado Supreme Court ordinarily issues censures, but in this case, a special tribunal made up of seven appeals court judges handled the case. The case was handed off under a court rule adopted in January that requires recusal of the Colorado Supreme Court under five specific circumstances.

Those circumstances include when a current or former state supreme court justice is a key witness or when a justice’s employee or family member is either a witness or the complainant. A state supreme court clerk told Colorado Politics that she didn’t know what circumstance triggered recusal.

Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel does not list contact information for Timbreza. His lawyer, Nancy L. Cohen of Cohen Black Law, did not immediately reply to the ABA Journal’s email and voicemail requesting comment.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.