When Missouri voters cast their general election ballot, they will be asked whether to let 56 nonpartisan judges keep their jobs. Two Missouri Supreme Court judges, 10 Court of Appeals judges, 22 circuit court judges, and 22 associate circuit court judges are campaigning to retain their seats on the bench.
Before each general election cycle in Missouri, a statewide committee reviews the performance of judges who hope to continue serving in their capacity. The 21-member panel then shares the results.
The group is made up of nine lawyers, nine non-lawyers, and three retired judges.
According to the committee, jurors were asked a series of questions about the judge’s courtroom conduct.
The lawyers’ survey focused on key traits that judges need to render justice effectively and fairly.
Circuit and associate circuit judges were rated in areas including a wide range of observable skills and traits, such as treating people fairly, competence in the law, and writing clear opinions.
Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges were rated on a different set of criteria as they decide cases that are appealed because of possible legal errors, either procedural or misinterpretations of the law. These judges were rated on areas such as whether their opinions were clearly written, whether they adequately explained the basis of the court’s decision and whether they issued opinions in a timely manner.
Larry Tucker, the chair of the committee, said the surveys are an integral part of assessing the performance of judges.
“These surveys of lawyers as well as of jurors, provide voters insight into the judge’s everyday performance. This is especially important as many voters may not have had direct contact with a judge up for retention. These surveys give voters a better look into the inner workings of a judge’s courtroom,” said Tucker.
He said the panel found all 56 judges substantially met performance standards.
“The people have shown that they are interested in retaining good judges who are fair and impartial, prompt and efficient, and who provide equal justice for all,” Tucker said. “The judicial performance review committee’s findings offer Missourians an alternative to negative political ads spurred by partisan politics and campaign money. This program helps make sure that the votes cast November 8, those for or against the retention of judges, are based on objective information about the performance of individual judges.”
He said the evaluation standards used this time around were the same as the last election cycle.
Click here to see the performance review results of a particular judge.