Bar News - August 14, 2009
Judicial Performance Evaluations Now On-line
By: Laura Kiernan
The results of the 2007 and 2008 Judicial Performance Evaluation program are now available on the Judicial Branch website.
In 2008, attorneys, judges and law professors were asked for the first time to participate in an electronic survey developed to evaluate the performance of the individual justices of the Supreme Court, as well as the court as a whole.
The new electronic survey program for the Supreme Court was developed with guidance from the Denver-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, which has led a nationwide effort to improve judicial accountability. Responses to the electronic surveys were automatically compiled by the survey program, under the supervision of research data analyst Susan Moseley of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Because their e-mail addresses were not available, surveys were mailed to self-represented litigants who brought their cases to the Supreme Court without legal assistance.
"My colleagues and I at the Supreme Court are grateful for the thoughtful attention given to the individual performance surveys. The questions were most appropriate and the responses were extremely helpful," said Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr.
The new electronic survey program initiated at the Supreme Court level in 2008 is intended to make it easier for respondents to participate in the survey, increasing the number of people returning the surveys and the feedback received by the court. A representative sample of attorneys involved in appeals, judges, marital masters and law professors were contacted first by letter from Chief Justice Broderick explaining the new survey model and alerting them that they would be receiving the survey by e-mail. A follow-up e-mail was sent to remind respondents to complete the survey.
Substantially more respondents participated in the 2008 electronic survey than in the last evaluation of the Supreme Court in 2005, which was done manually. In 2008, 746 surveys were distributed electronically and 316 responses were received. In 2005, 209 judicial performance evaluation questionnaires were distributed to parties and lawyers involved in appellate cases and 48 were returned.
The Supreme Court instituted a revised Judicial Performance Evaluation (JPE) program for the entire Judicial Branch in 2001, and each year, the results are reported to the governor and to legislative leadership. In April of this year, the District Court and the Family Division also began using an electronic survey for evaluating judicial performance.
Both state law and court rule require that the results of the surveys that pertain to individual judges at all levels of the court system remain confidential. A summary of the responses has been presented for public review in the report submitted to the Governor and lawmakers and posted on the court system website. Supreme Court Justices, Administrative Judges, Marital Master and Trial Court judges are evaluated every three years.
To read the 2007 and 2008 evaluations, go to www.courts.state.nh.us/sitewidelinks/evaluations.htm.