Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Judges on trial: How to promote judicial accountability

Date:
January 19, 2010
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Public employees have long been subject to performance reviews that evaluate how well they are performing their jobs. But can judges, public employees who literally hold the power of life and death in their hands, be assessed in the same way? New research shows that there is an effective way to evaluate judges, which benefits both the public and the judges themselves.

Public employees have long been subject to performance reviews that evaluate how well they are performing their jobs. But can judges, public employees who literally hold the power of life and death in their hands, be assessed in the same way? New research from North Carolina State University and East Carolina University shows that there is an effective way to evaluate judges, which benefits both the public and the judges themselves.

“Judicial independence and accountability are key to a sound judicial branch,” says Dr. Rick Kearney, co-author of the study and director of NC State’s School of Public and International Affairs. “And the judicial performance evaluation (JPE) system makes judges accountable, without affecting judicial independence.”

The JPE system is a “360 degree review, providing a medley of evaluations from people who have direct dealings with a judge – including their superiors, their employees and other judges,” Kearney explains. The JPE, which is performed by an impartial state commission, provides subjective feedback, which can identify perceived problems with a judge, such as sexism, racism or poor case management. But it also provides objective data that can be used to identify inefficiencies or questionable legal reasoning – such as the number of cases a judge has overturned on appeal and the length of time that passes between a case being heard in the courtroom and a decision being issued. Currently, 20 states have adopted the JPE system to review some or all of their judges.

“We wanted to evaluate the efficacy of the JPE system due to growing interest among states, including North Carolina, that are considering adopting JPE protocols,” Kearney says. The researchers analyzed data from the six states that are recognized as running model JPE programs: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah and Alaska. Kearney co-authored the study with Dr. Sharon Paynter, an assistant professor of political science at East Carolina University.

“We found that, at least in these states, the JPE is a good way to assess the performance of judges,” Kearney says. A good JPE program has multiple benefits, Kearney explains. For example, in states that elect judges, it helps voters make educated decisions at the ballot box. It also gives judges feedback that they can use to improve their case management and performance.

“The JPE approach hasn’t been adopted in more states largely because of resistance from judges themselves,” Kearney says. “For example, we found there is growing support for JPE in the North Carolina legal community, but there is a lack of support from state judicial leaders. Without promotion of the idea from these leaders, it is unlikely to move forward. However, we also found that in states that have implemented JPE, judges became comfortable with the system once they were familiar with it.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paynter et al. Who Watches the Watchmen? Evaluating Judicial Performance in the American States. Administration & Society, Jan 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0095399709349698

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Judges on trial: How to promote judicial accountability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119111043.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2010, January 19). Judges on trial: How to promote judicial accountability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119111043.htm
North Carolina State University. "Judges on trial: How to promote judicial accountability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119111043.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

AP (July 30, 2014) Scientists in Texas are studying the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people across West Africa this year. Right now, the disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins