Judicial Accountability & Evaluations
"For every court system in the United States, judicial performance evaluation is an idea whose moment has come.
—Rebecca Love Kourlis, former Colorado justice and director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal system
To be fair and impartial, judges must be protected from special interest and partisan influence. But they also must remain accountable to the law and Constitution. How can the public know whether their judges are indeed doing their jobs properly?
Judicial Performance Evaluations, used in 17 states, are a significant tool. These evaluations draw input from everyone who has contact with a judge—jurors, witnesses, lawyers and court personnel—and report the cumulative feedback on a judge’s performance.
Public education and feedback to judges are two important benefits. Nine states make their findings public. The other states show evaluations only to judges and decision-makers.
JPE programs focus on competence, not ideology. By examining such areas as fairness, temperament, punctuality and clarity of decisions, judicial evaluations assess a judge’s professional skills without making value judgments about specific rulings.