Missouri voters will decide in November whether 53 nonpartisan judges should stay on the bench. They will have at least two judges on their ballot as part of so-called retention elections. One Missouri Supreme Court judge, four Court of Appeals judges, 27 circuit court judges and 22 associate circuit court judges hope to remain in their position.
The Missouri Judicial Performance Review Committee has analyzed the performance of each judge. They were evaluated on things like courtroom conduct, writing clear opinions, and whether they issued timely opinions.
Dale Doerhoff, the chairman of the 21-member committee, says the surveys give voters a better look at the inner workings of a judge’s courtroom.
“People tend to vote if they believe they have enough information to make an informed vote,” says Doerhoff. “And the fact that we’re providing this information then allows them to make an informed vote. So that also contributes to the overall accountability of judges in Missouri.”
Doerhoff says over the past four years, hundreds of thousands of Missourians have checked out the results to help them make informed decisions at the polls.
“We also are encouraged by the fact that in Missouri, we have one of the highest participation averages of any state in how many people who vote on the top of the ticket are still voting when it gets to the retention elections,” says Doerhoff.
The committee is made up of nine lawyers, nine non-lawyers and three retired judges. He says before members review the performance of each judge, all identifying information is removed to keep the evaluations objective.
“We believe that our work – the Judicial Performance Review Committee – and our findings and the information we provide to the voters is really an alternative to negative political ads. Although our judges may in the nonpartisan plan are not on the ballot as politicians, if we were in a state where it was partisan, then there would be partisan politics and campaign money and create the impression that justice was for sale,” says Doerhoff.
The Missouri Bar shares the independent committee’s findings with the public and funds the review process created in 2008.
To see the performance information for yourself before casting your vote, go to YourMissouriJudges.org
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