Title

Judicial Evaluations and Information Forcing: Ranking State High Courts and Their Judges

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Keywords

state courts, evaluations, rankings

Abstract

Judges and courts get evaluated and ranked in a variety of contexts. The President implicitly ranks lower-court judges when he picks some rather than others to be promoted within the federal judiciary. The ABA and other organizations evaluate and rank these same judges. For the state courts, governors and legislatures do similar rankings and evaluations, as do interest groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, produces an annual ranking of the state courts that is based on surveys of business lawyers. These various rankings and evaluations are often made on the basis of subjective information and opaque criteria. The secretive nature of these evaluations potentially allows organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce to use rankings to advance their own specific agenda. Our Article rests on the premise that these organizations that do their rankings based on opaque data and criteria need competition. Competition will force competing metrics to make transparent the underlying measures on which they are based and thereby foster the generation of higher quality metrics to rank judges. Using publicly available information and easy to reproduce measures, we construct an alternate set of rankings of the state courts that we then match up against the rankings from the Chamber of Commerce. Our measures are admittedly coarse. Nevertheless, to the extent they are credible, transparent, and significantly different from those of organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, the hope is that they will force those organizations to better explain the methods and information that underlie their rankings.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

State courts, Evaluation

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