Twenty Judges Evaluated on Courtroom Performance

Chief Justice Ronald Moon released the Judicial Performance Program 2007 Report, which provides the summary results of performance evaluations for 20 judges. The results show that most attorneys thought the judges performed well. Eight judges were also evaluated by jurors.

An internet pilot project was implemented to streamline the evaluation process. Five District Court judges were evaluated via online forms submitted over the Internet from July 31, 2007 to August 31, 2007. Six District Court judges were evaluated via forms submitted by standard mail from July 31, 2007, to Sept. 4, 2007. Nine Circuit Court judges were evaluated by standard mail between July 31, 2007 and Sept. 4, 2007.

For the District Court judges evaluated in the Internet pilot project, the Legal Ability section had a mean score of 4.0. The mean score for Judicial Management Skills was 4.0, the mean score for Comportment was 4.1, and the mean score for Settlement and/or Plea Agreement Ability was 4.0.

For the District Court judges evaluated by standard mail, the Legal Ability mean score measured 4.1. The Judicial Management Skills mean score was 4.2, the Comportment mean score was 4.2, and the Settlement and/or Plea Agreement Ability mean score was 4.1

The Circuit Court judges had mean scores of 4.2 in the Legal Ability section, 4.2 in the Judicial Management Skills section, 4.2 in the Comportment section, and 4.1 in the Settlement and/or Plea Agreement Ability section. Scores were based on a scale of possible responses ranging from one, for Poor, to five, for Excellent.

In addition to attorneys, jurors also are asked to evaluate judges. The eight Circuit Court judges evaluated by jurors had a mean score of 4.8 for Overall Performance. They also had a mean score of 4.8 for the other ten items in the questionnaire.

As in the past, the judges evaluated in this report were or will be interviewed by members of the Judicial Evaluation Review Panel. The eight members of the Review Panel are Robert Alm, Momi Cazimero, Richard Guy, Douglas McNish, Willson Moore Jr., Herbert Shimabukuro, Betty Vitousek, and Stanley Yamagata Jr. They are organized into groups of three to counsel judges from the Circuit Court and District Court groups. Each panel consists of one former judge, one non-practicing attorney, and one member of the public knowledgeable in the law.

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.

All yearly reports on the Judicial Performance Program are available to the Judicial Selection Commission. Scores and attorney comments received for individual judges are also available to the Commission, upon its request.

The current report may be viewed on the Judiciary's website at 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 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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