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Lawyers have week left to evaluate performance of judges

Lawyers practicing in Clark County have one week left to rate sitting judges in the 2011 Judicial Performance Evaluation sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The number of lawyers who evaluated judges in the first week was quite encouraging," said Nancy Downey of Downey Research, who conducts the survey for the newspaper. "But we need as many as we can get, because the greater the rate of response, the more useful the data."

The evaluation process began Oct. 18. In the first seven days, 340 lawyers rated judges, out of 4,625 lawyers invited to do so.

Lawyers who intend to evaluate judges must do so on or before Monday, Nov. 7. The lawyers go online to score judges on specific job-related traits, and also recommend whether voters should retain the judge in the next election. An invitation to participate, along with a unique password and a unique identification number required to access the evaluation website, was mailed to each active member of the Nevada State Bar who gave the Bar a primary business address in Clark County.

Each lawyer is asked to rate only jurists with whom he or she has first hand and recent experience. There are technical safeguards against use of the website by people who aren’t lawyers, and against anybody evaluating the same jurist more than once.

Nancy Saitta, chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, urged lawyers to rate judges before whom they have appeared in the last two years. "Attorneys who appear in our courtrooms can offer valuable observations about the effectiveness of the court system as well as the actions of the judges."

Identities of individuals who rate judges are protected by methods resembling those used in political elections. The Review-Journal will publish stories about the most important results in December, and will make complete results available on its website. Results of the last judicial evaluation, conducted in 2010, are available at www.lvrj.com/hottopics/in_depth/judges/judgingthejudges2010.html.

This year’s survey covers 90, including those serving on the Nevada Supreme Court, the Clark County District Court and its Family Court division; and justices of the peace and municipal judges in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson.

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