Robert O. Rice, J.
In October 2017, Utah's Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) will email judicial evaluation surveys to Utah lawyers. Check your in box for the surveys, which ask Utah attorneys to evaluate up to nine judges before whom they have regularly practiced. According to JPEC, the surveys are constructed to trigger a response rate that can achieve reliability at a 95% confidence level, consistent with professional survey research practices. The surveys represent a unique opportunity for Utah lawyers to make significant contributions toward improving the administration of justice in Utah. It does not hurt that the process is anonymous, easy, and quick. Nonetheless, many Utah lawyers fail to complete the survey.
Judge W. Brent West, Presiding Judge for the Second District Court, recently spoke with Utah Bar Past-President Robert Rice about the importance of lawyers participating in the judicial evaluation process. Judge West will retire shortly, but he has spent more than thirty years on the bench. His extensive experience on the bench allows him to describe how the evaluation process has assisted him and his colleagues in improving the administration of justice in Utah and why full participation by lawyers in the judicial evaluation process is essential to the success of JPEC.
Mr. Rice: You've been on the bench for many years and know what it's like to be a judge before and after JPEC began the evaluation process in 2008. How is the process working nowadays?
Judge West: I think JPEC is doing overall a very good job. As with everything, when you're the one being judged, no pun intended, there are some things that you are concerned about. The main criticism, under the old system, where judges were reviewed by the Judicial Council, was that judicial evaluations ought to be performed by a more neutral body. I basically agree with the current process in what I call the JPEC era, where we have oversight by people who didn't necessarily come from a judicial background. Again...