State Judges Receive High Marks for Courtroom Performance

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Moon recently released the 11th Judicial Performance Program report containing evaluations by attorneys of nine Circuit Court and eight Family Court judges. The report also includes juror evaluations of eight judges.

Results of confidential questionnaires submitted by attorneys show that most jurists performed well in terms of their legal skills and courtroom techniques.

On a scale ranging from one for "poor" to five for "excellent," attorneys gave the Circuit Court judges a mean score of 4.1 for legal ability. They also gave them mean scores of 4.1 for judicial management skills, 4.4 for comportment and 4.1 for settlement and/or plea agreement ability. The judges were evaluated in September and October 2005.

Attorneys gave the Family Court judges mean scores of 4.1 for legal ability, 4.2 for judicial management skills, 4.3 for comportment and 4.2 for settlement and/or plea agreement ability. They were evaluated in April and May 2005.

As for the jurors, they gave the Circuit Court and Circuit-level Family Court judges a mean score of 4.9 for overall performance. They also gave the judges high marks for patience (4.8), dignity (4.9), courtesy (4.9), attentiveness (4.9), fairness (4.9), absence of arrogance (4.9), absence of bias (4.9), absence of prejudice (4.9), clear communication of court procedures (4.9) and efficient use of court time (4.7). The jurors made their evaluations in February and March 2005.

As in the past, judges were interviewed about their scores by the Judicial Evaluation Review Panel, consisting of former judges, non-practicing attorneys and members of the public knowledgeable in the law. Panel members are Robert Alm, Momi Cazimero, Lawrence Foster, Richard Guy, Lynne Kaneshiro, Douglas McNish, Willson Moore, Jr., Herbert Shimabukuro and Betty Vitousek.

Chief Justice Moon established the annual performance review as a permanent program in 1993. The main goals are: improving the performances of judges, increasing the efficiency of judicial
management and providing the Judicial Selection Commission with a potential source of information for retention and promotion decisions.

The current report and reports from previous years may be viewed on the Judiciary Web site at www.courts.state.hi.us and also at the Supreme Court Law Library on O`ahu and Circuit Court law libraries on the islands of Hawai`i, Maui and Kaua`i.

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Contact: Marsha E. Kitagawa 539-4909

For more information, contact the public affairs office at 808-539-4909 or via email at pao@courts.state.hi.us.

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