Monday, December 15, 2008

On evaluating judges

The American Bar Association publishes something called "GUIDELINES FOR THE EVALUATION OF JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE WITH COMMENTARY."

Part of what it says is this:

"Guideline 3-4. When judicial evaluations are used to inform decision makers regarding the continuation of judges in office, results should be made readily available to those responsible for continuation decisions, including voters, governors, legislatures, and commissions.
-4.1. Those responsible for reappointing, reelecting, or retaining judges should be provided with objective summaries of evaluation results for each judge and an explanation of how to interpret the results.
-4.2. If evaluation results are provided to an individual or entity responsible for continuation decisions, and those results include assessments of a judge’s overall performance or recommendations as to whether a judge should be continued in office, judges should have an opportunity to review and respond to the evaluation report before it is disseminated.
-4.3. If evaluation results are publicly disseminated, and those results include assessments of a judge’s overall performance or recommendations as to whether a judge should continued in office, judges should have an opportunity to review, respond, and meet with members of the evaluation body before the results are made public."

Something else the paper says is this:

"Judicial evaluations based on appropriate criteria and reliable and valid methodology . . . pose no threat to the independence of the judges being evaluated."

The VLW Blog has this post which suggests the making of a constitutional crisis, as the Chief Justice and the General Assembly dicker over the limitations on the use of judicial evaluations in Virginia. Under Va. Code 17.1-100, "The Supreme Court, by rule, shall establish and maintain a judicial performance evaluation program that will provide a self-improvement mechanism for judges and a source of information for the reelection process. By September 1 of each year, the Supreme Court, or its designee, shall transmit a report of the evaluation in the final year of the term of each justice and judge whose term expires during the next session of the General Assembly to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice."

I have filled out a bunch of these judicial evaluation forms, including most of the circuit court judges in the 28th, 29th, and 30th circuits. If the General Assembly can't use them, then what a waste - maybe I should just start throwing them in the trash.

1 comment:

Fred Smithee said...

The legislature would never see your form in any case. The report transmitted to the General Assembly is a statistical compilation of all the forms submitted for the judge. Which makes it even harder to understand why they should be kept under seal.