Building Shared Expectations with Judicial Performance Evaluations

March 17, 2014

The Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association (WTLA) dedicated its Winter 2014 edition of The Coffee House to the Judiciary, and renews its respect for the method by which Wyoming chooses judges: merit selection. As part of the WTLA's review of the bench, IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis wrote an article about one way that Wyoming can enhance its selection and retention process, by conducting judicial performance evaluations.

In her article, "Building Shared Expectations: Using Judicial Performance Evaluations to Promote Judicial Accountability," Kourlis describes the many benefits of judicial performance evaluation programs:

It is an important component to balancing judicial accountability and judicial independence. It identifies the proper criteria by which to review a judge, without invading the province of judicial independence so critical to our democracy. And it serves as a valuable educational tool both for judges and the public they serve. For every court system in the United States, judicial performance evaluation is an idea whose moment has come.

Judicial Performance Evaluation is a component of IAALS' O'Connor Judicial Selection Plan. Authored in partnership with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the plan is a recommended model for choosing, evaluating, and retaining judges, and seeks to establish impartiality and accountability in our courts.