Citizen Input on Colorado’s Judicial Performance Evaluation system sought in statewide hearings

The State Commission on Judicial Performance has announced a series of public hearings to provide citizen input on Colorado’s Judicial Performance Evaluation system as a prelude to lobbying the legislature to renew the program’s governing statute (C.R.S. 13-5.5-101 et. seq.), which sunsets in 2019.  See more here.       The Commission seeks input on these six questions:

  1.  Do you rely on the “official” Judicial Performance Evaluations when you vote for judges?
    Why or why not?
  2. Do the “official” Judicial Performance Evaluations collect the right information about judges?
  3. Do the “official” Judicial Performance Evaluations evaluate and report the evaluations properly?
  4. Does the quality and usefulness of the evaluation information meet your expectations?
  5. What other attributes of judges should we be gathering feedback on?
  6. What suggestions do you have to improve the system?

Each meeting will last approximately two hours, depending on attendance and be based on the following agenda: I) Introductions and Meeting Purpose II) General Rules III) Current Program Overview IV) Public input   If you cannot attend one of these meetings in person you can submit comments regarding the program via the COJPE  “Citizens Feedback” link, or fill out an online survey: Citizens JPE Program Feedback Survey 2016   Hearings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Clear The Bench Colorado encourages citizen participation in these meetings, which represent at least an attempt to solicit substantive feedback, constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement of the judicial evaluation process.   An increase in transparency and accountability, including more substantive information on actual judicial performance versus the current “survey says” popularity contest model, could improve our state’s judicial performance review process and provide real information of use to voters in distinguishing between judges seeking retention in office.
A critically important and much-needed improvement, in CTBC’s view, would be to remove the retain/not retain “recommendations” from the “official” review process.  In no other area do political appointees
(all “performance review” commissioners are appointed by the governor, attorney general, state legislators and the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court – the latter certainly seeming to have a conflict of interest) tell Coloradans how to vote.  The “evaluation” commissions should focus on evaluating (and rating) performance, rather than electioneering to promote votes.

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