University of Denver

Judicial Performance Evaluation Commissions on Social Media

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

This article originally appeared in the December Connected newsletter by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

As the quality of judges and integrity of the judiciary continue to receive heightened attention, education and outreach has increasingly become the focus for the courts. Slowly joining the social media bandwagon, judicial performance evaluation (JPE) sites have been cropping up. In a companion piece to November's NCSC Connected article, Social media and judicial elections, what is emerging in the world of retention elections and JPE results?

Eighteen states have official programs for evaluating judicial performance, whether to aid judges in improving their own performance, to enhance public confidence in the courts, or to inform those who retain judges. For the 2012 elections, JPE commissions in at least four states turned to social media in an effort to expand their exposure and engage their audiences. The commissions looked to Facebook, Twitter, and/or YouTube to share evaluation results with voters.

In Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, performance evaluation commissions created Facebook pages to get the word out, and Utah's commission also used Twitter. Two states created videos modeled after Colorado's Know Your Judge PSA that was first introduced in 2010. The North Carolina video was posted on YouTube and on the state bar association's website, and the Utah video was available through the commission's Facebook page.

While judicial candidates from Alaska to Florida embraced social media at a rapid pace this election cycle, it was slow going for commissions on judicial performance reviews. The response to Arizona's Facebook page reports only 210 "Likes" and 2 "Talking about this." Arizona's commission joined Facebook in August 2010. New Mexico's Facebook page was launched in July 2010. It reports 41 "Likes." The Utah page, started in 2008, reflects 166 "Likes."