SJC JUDICIAL EVALUATION PROGRAM
TO ENHANCE ACCOUNTABILITY OF JUDGES;
Program Launched in Bristol and Plymouth Counties
and court employees in Bristol and Plymouth counties have
an opportunity this month to evaluate the 65 judges of the
District, Housing, Juvenile, Probate and Family, and Superior
Courts in those counties in a pilot program developed by a
Supreme Judicial Court Committee consisting of representative
Trial Court judges.
than 5500 questionnaires were mailed to lawyers and court
personnel at the beginning of May to assess judges’ performance
in areas such as demeanor, case management, legal knowledge,
courtroom management, and timeliness of decisions. The questionnaire
consists of about fifteen statements with a rating scale and
several open-ended questions for longer answers.
Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall announced
this year that judicial accountability and judicial performance
evaluation are a top priority of the judicial branch.
said, “ Successful people are those who listen and learn from
others how they are perceived and how they can improve.
Judges want to work consistently at their peak and
welcome constructive feedback from other people. Judicial
evaluations are another professional tool to enhance our job
performance and our accountability to the public.”
Justice Marshall also said that the appellate courts are currently
developing an evaluation program for judges of the Supreme
Judicial Court and the Appeals Court, which will be launched
later this year.
pilot program in Bristol and Plymouth counties was designed
by an SJC Committee of seven Trial Court judges and court
officials, chaired by Judge Janet Sanders, First Justice of
the Concord District Court.
Their mandate was to establish a comprehensive, uniform
system that would assess judicial performance among Trial
Court departments (Boston Municipal, District, Housing, Juvenile,
Land, Probate and Family, and Superior Courts). All of the
nearly 400 judges in the system will be evaluated when the
program is fully implemented in the next two to three years.
It will then continue to be an ongoing program.
Since 1989, each court department has had its own program
to evaluate judges’ performance.
The new performance evaluation system incorporates
many of the best elements of those programs.
Sanders said, “This pilot project is just the first step in
the development of a statewide program. The committee members
have worked long and hard to develop a fair system for evaluating
judges, and each Trial Court judge provided excellent ideas
from programs that have worked well in their departments.”
Sanders also credited the work of Mona Hochberg, the SJC Coordinator
of Judicial Performance Evaluation, who helped the Committee
to create the program.
results of the judicial evaluation program will remain confidential,
in compliance with G.L. 211,§ 26, except to the judge being
evaluated and to the Chief Justice of the respective department,
who will review the results with the judge. The deadline for
the questionnaire responses from attorneys and court employees
is May 31.