"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Evaluations? More Like a Sales Pitch

September 5th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

The Missouri Bar’s evaluations of judges up for retention election do not accomplish their stated purpose, which is to explain to Missourians why each “merit-selected” judge should be retained or should not be retained. Rather than providing detailed analysis of judges’ performance, the judges are graded on ambiguous five point scales in nine very broad subject areas. No further detail as to their judicial competence is presented; instead, the bar insists that voters should trust lawyers’ judgment, look at the meaningless evaluation form, and trust their up-or-down “should be retained” or “should not be retained” rating.

The evaluations used by the Missouri Bar are not legitimate ways to inform the public about the competence of judges. The evaluations are not substantive in the least, and they do little to educate voters. Rather than being educational documents that will inform the public about the competence of judges, they seem more like sales pitches aimed to get certain judges through the elections by “selling” them to the public as lawyer-approved. The Bar must obviously think of itself as the last word in determining judicial competence, as they are apparently sure enough of their own decisions that they believe it unnecessary to even give the public the information we need to decide for ourselves.

The citizens of this state need to know more than the Bar is telling us. We need a detailed description of the competence of a judge, not just a short biography, an arbitrary five point scale covering nine ambiguous issues, and an up-or-down rating. Missouri citizens are expected to make the decision at the polls based on the best information available; we are not supposed to unquestioningly let lawyers just tell us how to vote. We depend on the lawyers of the Missouri Bar to show us why judges should be retained, not just to tell us their opinion. We are living in the “Show Me” state, after all, and it’s time the Missouri Bar realized it.

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Tags: Decision '08 · MO Supreme Court

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jim Byrne // Sep 5, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Throw ’em all out!

    If the Missouri Bar Association (a committee of the Court) is charged with providing the voters with valuable information about these judges, yet purposely fails to do so, we should send a clear message to the Missouri Bar Association, and their parent company (the Missouri Judiciary) by removing all but the one judge they tell us not to retain.

    Retain St. Louis County Judge Dale Hood, but throw the rest of the bums out on their butts.

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