First Judicial Performance Evaluation Pilot Program Completed;
Nearly 1300 Attorneys and Court Employees Rate
64 Judges in Bristol and Plymouth Counties
judges presiding in courts in Bristol and Plymouth counties
received performance evaluations from 1283 lawyers and court
employees in the Supreme Judicial Court’s first system-wide
Judicial Performance Evaluation pilot project launched last
May. A third of those
who received questionnaires responded, representing the highest
percentage of responses of any judicial performance survey
conducted to date in Massachusetts.
overall results show that the majority of judges generally
scored highly in all categories, such as maintaining control
of the courtroom; treating litigants, witnesses, jurors, and
attorneys with respect; acting fairly and impartially; listening
with patience and attentiveness; demonstrating knowledge of
the law; and promoting public confidence in the judiciary.
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall said, “This is part of
our continuing program to assist judges to attain or maintain
peak job performance, in this case by receiving constructive
comments from lawyers who practice before them and by court
employees who work with them every day.”
results will be reviewed by the judges who were evaluated
in consultation with their respective Chief Justices of the
Trial Court Departments.
Resources will be developed to address any issues identified
by the evaluations. The legislation governing judicial performance
evaluations, G.L. c.211, § 26, and SJC Rule 1:16, mandate
that the information contained in the individual judicial
performance evaluations must remain confidential.
SJC Committee on Judicial Performance Evaluation, headed by
Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, designed and executed
the pilot program with the help of the SJC Judicial Performance
Evaluation Coordinator, Mona Hochberg, and will continue the
evaluation process with judges in other counties, beginning
this fall. Judges in Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties, as well as the
judges of the statewide Land Court, will be the next groups
to be surveyed.
Committee sent questionnaires to nearly 4500 attorneys and
1000 court employees last spring. Judges from the District Court, the largest
Trial Court Department, received more than 4000 evaluations. The other judges receiving evaluations were
from the Superior Court Department with 3,410 responses; the
Probate and Family Court Department with 2,198; the Juvenile
Court Department with 660, and the Housing Court Department
with 218 responses.
Sanders said, “The Committee was extremely pleased with both
the quantity and the quality of the responses that we received,
although our overall goal is to devise ways to increase the
numbers of those responding even further.
We will also be working to determine how individual
judges who have been evaluated can use what they have learned
to improve their performance on the bench.”
pilot evaluation project is the Committee’s first effort to
assess judicial performance across Trial Court Departments
to achieve a uniform system useful to all judges.
Previously, each Trial Court Department designed and
implemented its own program of judicial performance enhancement.
addition to Judge Sanders and Mona Hochberg, the Committee
members are Superior Court Judge Robert H. Bohn Jr.; Probate
and Family Court Judge David M. Fuller; Boston Municipal Court
Judge Thomas C. Horgan; Southeastern Housing Court Judge Manuel
Kyriakakis; Fitchburg District Court First Justice Paul F.
LoConto; Land Court Judge Leon J. Lombardi; and Bristol Juvenile
Court Judge Kenneth P. Nasif.
Associate Labor Counsel Anne-Marie Ofori-Acquaah is
the representative for Chief Justice for Administration and
Management Barbara A. Dortch-Okara.