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Other Judicial Recommendations

Statistics on judicial election evaluations

There are essentially two kinds of judicial evaluations: those which are “neutral”—that is, those which seek to evaluate and recommend candidates based only on competency and qualifications; and those which are “partisan”—that is, those which have a political or ideological bias and evaluate and recommend candidates based (at least in part) on their perceived political or ideological beliefs. This page only covers “neutral” evaluations, since the results of partisan evaluations are relatively predictable in any given race—the partisan evaluator will support the candidate of one party and not support the candidate of the other party.
Neutral evaluators usually base their recommendations on surveys of attorneys, jurors, other members of the public who have come into professional contact with the judge, questionnaires the judge fills out for the evaluators, and/or personal interviews conducted by the evaluators.
All of the following evaluations were made for the 2010 elections, unless otherwise noted.


Judges Evaluated
Judges Receiving "Retention" Recommendation
% Receiving "Retention" Recommendation
Know Your JudgesCO13513399%
Vote For JudgesCook County, IL696696%
Arizon Commission on Judicial Performance ReviewAZ6464100%
Alaska Judicial CouncilAK282796%
Kansas Commission on Judicial PerformanceKS6565100%
New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation CommissionNM757499%
Tennessee Appellate Judges Evaluation ReportTN55100%
Utah Judicial CouncilUT126126100%


Candidates Evaluated
% Receiving "Excellent" Rating
% Receiving "Good" Rating
% Receiving "Adequate" Rating
% Receiving "Unqualified" Rating
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Associate3244% (14)26% (9)19% (6)9% (3)
Columbus Bar Association 1839% (7)N/A 39% (7)22% (4)
King County Bar Association1747% (8)41% (7)6% (1)6% (1)

A rough pattern emerges from this brief survey: the commissions that evaluate candidates in retention elections almost always recommend retention, whereas the commissions that evaluate candidates in contested elections occasionally (though not very often) rate a candidate as “unqualified.” One possibility is that all of the candidates in retention election are by definition already judges, so they will have prior judicial experience, whereas at least some of the candidates in contested elections have never served as judges before and therefore lack that qualification. At this point there are not enough candidates rated “unqualified” for us to see if this is indeed the reason for the slight difference in the percentage of candidates who fail to get the approval of the evaluation committee.

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