Judging the Judges

Voters need credible information to make good choices on Election Day. Judicial races traditionally offer very little.

Southern Nevada lawyers have an opportunity to provide the electorate -- and judges themselves -- with valuable, performance-related data on the powerful people in charge of our courts.

The Review-Journal's biennial Judging the Judges survey is under way. On Monday, the newspaper mailed requests for participation to every licensed Nevada attorney with a Clark County business address.

Through a secure Web site, lawyers will be asked to rate the judges before whom they have appeared on several job-related criteria, and to advise whether they should be retained. The anonymous survey also asks lawyers to provide short paragraphs on the strengths and weaknesses of particular jurists. When all the responses are compiled and published this summer, judges will get a picture of how they're perceived and how they can do better, and voters will get a sense of which judges are weakest and might need to be replaced.

"Some of the most important votes citizens can cast are for our judges and justices, but most of us have little contact with the courts or lawyers and have little personal knowledge of what makes a good judge," said Review-Journal editor Thomas Mitchell. "The Review-Journal started doing this 18 years ago because we needed to help our readers with better information about sitting judges. ... It has proven to be a reliable tool, as judges and justices who fared poorly in the survey tend to fare poorly in the election."

We urge Clark County attorneys to check their mail for their invitation, which includes a personal identification number and password for the survey's Web site, and complete the survey as soon before the March 8 deadline as possible. Your feedback is invaluable to the courts you practice in and essential to the voting public.