Judging the judges

The problem with electing judges is not the elections themselves. The problem is a lack of information for voters on the performance of judges. Judicial campaigns are seldom competitive, and they typically provide the electorate with little more than biographical information.

How do jurists conduct themselves and treat those who enter their courtrooms? How well do they apply the law? How hard do they work to manage their caseloads?

This summer, once again, the Review-Journal is surveying Southern Nevada lawyers for the newspaper’s biennial Judicial Performance Evaluation. The results of that survey will be revealed later this year in the “Judging the Judges” series. The goal of the survey, said Review-Journal Editor Michael Hengel, is to provide “a helpful tool for voters, who otherwise would have a tough task assessing the job judges do.” The survey also gives judges feedback they can use to improve their approach.

Of course, the survey becomes more valuable if more attorneys respond. Every attorney in Southern Nevada has been invited via mail to participate in the web-based survey. Each attorney has been assigned a confidential personal identification number and password to enter the survey site.

Unfortunately, mailing addresses aren’t always updated with the bar association, so some lawyers might not have received their invitation. And the deadline to complete the survey is Monday, Aug. 12.

Any attorney who has not received their PIN and password via mail should contact the survey’s administrator, Downey Research Consultants, at 461-9571, or via email at nancy@downeyresearch.com. Attorneys should limit their reviews to judges they have appeared before.

“Response rates matter,” Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Kristina Pickering said of the survey. “Low response rates threaten the credibility of the results, because they may mean that the sample is not representative.”

We strongly encourage Southern Nevada lawyers to take the time to complete the survey. Voters are depending on you to help them cast informed ballots next year.