Evaluation Criteria

The seven judicial performance evaluation committees that analyzed the qualifications and skills of non-partisan judges seeking retention in the November 4, 2014, general election conducted their work based on a series of Judicial Peformance Standards.

In making their recommendations regarding retention, the committees analyzed the results of a survey of lawyers, the results of a survey of jurors (when applicable), the results of a court staff survey (when applicable) and written opinions issued by each judge.

Lawyer Survey

For appellate judges, lawyers were asked to evaluate judges on 14 specific criteria as follows:

  1. Writes opinions that adequately explain the basis of the court’s decision.
  2. Writes opinions that follow an applicable standard of review for the case.
  3. Writes opinions that clearly set forth any rules of law to be used in future cases.
  4. Writes opinions that decide only those issues that need to be decided in the cases before the court.
  5. Writes opinions that address the issues raised by both parties fairly.
  6. Writes separate opinions that are appropriate in tone and substance.
  7. Writes opinions that are clear.
  8. Writes opinions that are concise.
  9. Writes opinions that adequately summarize the relevant facts in the case.
  10. Writes opinions in which the legal reasoning is easy to follow.
  11. Is attentive to the arguments of all parties during oral argument.
  12. Is punctual for proceedings
  13. Is attentive to the differing opinions of colleagues during oral argument.
  14. Writes opinions that accurately reflect the evidence in the record.

For trial judges, lawyers were asked to evaluate judges on 19 specific criteria as follows:

  1. The judge treated the parties equally.
  2. The judge carefully considered arguments from both sides before ruling.
  3. The judge conducted the proceeding in a neutral manner.
  4. The judge maintained a professional demeanor in the courtroom.
  5. The judge was prepared for court.
  6. The judge’s ruling cited the applicable substantive law.
  7. The judge adhered to appropriate rules of procedure.
  8. The judge applied rules of evidence relevant to the case.
  9. The judge assisted parties in narrowing key issues in dispute.
  10. The judge’s decision followed logically from the evidence presented.
  11. The judge issued an order that was clearly written.
  12. The judge addressed individuals (e.g., attorneys, court staff, litigants, public, witnesses) respectfully in the courtroom.
  13. The judge gave reasons for a ruling when needed.
  14. The judge listened carefully during the court proceeding.
  15. The judge started courtroom proceedings on time.
  16. The judge allowed the appropriate amount of time for each case.
  17. The judge used courtroom time efficiently.
  18. The judge made sure all parties (attorneys and their clients) understood the court proceedings.
  19. Considering the amount of case law required to make the decision, the judge was prompt in rendering a decision.

For both appellate and trial judges, lawyers’ evaluations were converted into a numerical score between 1 and 5, with 1 being the poorest and 5 being the best. The number of responses and the average score is listed for each criteria.

Juror Surveys

Members of the public who had served on juries before trial judges during the last two calendar years were asked to complete a survey composed of “yes/no” answers. Questions on the juror survey are as follows:

  1. Did the judge treat people equally regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, or any other factor?
  2. Did the judge appear to be free from bias?
  3. Did the judge act in a dignified manner?
  4. Did the judge act with patience?
  5. Did the judge appear to be well-prepared for the case?
  6. Did the judge clearly explain court procedure?
  7. Did the judge clearly explain the legal issues of the case?
  8. Did the judge maintain control over the courtroom?
  9. Did the judge promote public confidence in the courts?
  10. Did the judge clearly explain the responsibilities of the jury?

It is important to note that juries do not serve in appellate courts, so no jury information was involved in the evaluation of appellate judges seeking retention.

Court Staff Survey

For appellate judges, court staff was asked to evaluate the judges on 8 specific criteria as follows:

  1. Is attentive to the arguments of all parties during oral argument.
  2. Engaged in collegial decision making.
  3. Shows respect to all court employees.
  4. Behaves in a manner that fosters respect for the court system.
  5. Provides feedback constructively to court staff.
  6. Encourage constructive feedback from court staff.
  7. Is punctual for proceedings.
  8. Effectively handles workload.

For trial judges, court staff was asked to evaluate the judges on 15 specific criteria as follows:

  1. The judge treated the parties equally.
  2. The judge conducted the proceeding in a neutral manner.
  3. The judge assisted parties in narrowing the key issues in dispute.
  4. The judge addressed individuals (e.g., attorneys, court staff, litigants, public, witnesses) respectfully in the courtroom.
  5. The judge treated court employees respectfully regardless of position.
  6. The judge was prepared for court.
  7. The judge maintained a professional demeanor in the courtroom.
  8. The judge gave reasons for a ruling when needed.
  9. The judge made sure all parties (attorneys and their clients) understood the court proceedings.
  10. The judge listened carefully during the court proceeding.
  11. The judge started courtroom proceedings on time.
  12. The judge allowed the appropriate amount of time for each case.
  13. The judge used courtroom time efficiently.
  14. The judge provided court staff with clear direction.
  15. The judge thoroughly addressed concerns raised by court staff.

For both appellate and trial judges, lawyers’ evaluations were converted into a numerical score between 1 and 5, with 1 being the poorest and 5 being the best. The number of responses and the average score is listed for each criteria.

Written Opinions

Each appellate judge was asked to provide up to five (5) written opinions for use by the evaluation committee. The committee was charged with the responsibility to review the decisions authored by each judge for adherence to the record, clarity of expression, logical reasoning, and application of law to the facts presented.

Each trial judge was asked to provide up to three (3) written opinion for use by the evaluation committee. The committee was charged with the responsibility to review the decision authored by each judge for thoroughness of findings, clarity of expression, logical reasoning, and application of the law to the facts presented.

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