EVALUATING JUDGES’ JOB PERFORMANCE:
THE CONFERENCE TEAM PROCESS
Once judges are appointed, they must periodically stand for retention election. Performance review is a way of evaluating the judges who seek to remain on the bench. A commission reviews the judges’ job performances to determine if they are meeting judicial performance standards. The public uses the information provided from the performance reviews during the periodic retention elections to determine if the judges should remain in office. While a number of states use some form of performance review to evaluate their judges, Arizona also requires its judges to undergo a self-evaluation process.
WHAT IS A CONFERENCE TEAM?
Arizona’s retention process includes a second important component, self‑evaluation. Midway through a judge’s term in office, and again prior to a retention election, a judge meets with a three-member team, called a “Conference Team.” Conference Teams are composed of one public volunteer, one attorney volunteer, and one judge volunteer.
WHAT DOES THE CONFERENCE TEAM DO?
Prior to meeting with the Conference Team, each judge or justice is required to complete a self-evaluation which reflects his or her perception of his or her performance as to each judicial performance criterion used in the various surveys distributed during the performance review. The self-evaluation, together with the data reports and comments received during the performance review, are reviewed by the Conference Teams prior to meeting with their assigned judges.
At a meeting between the three members of the Conference Team and the judge or justice, aspects of the judge’s or justice’s performance that may need improvement are identified. Additionally, the Conference Team assists the judge or justice in developing self-improvement plans and goals for the coming review period.
At the completion of the meeting, the judge or justice and Conference Team prepare a written plan called a “Conference Team Report.”
HOW IS THE CONFERENCE TEAM INFORMATION USED?
Neither the Conference Team Report nor the Self-Improvement Plan is distributed to the JPR Commission for use in its deliberations. The report and plan are distributed only to the judges’ Presiding Judge or Chief Judge, and to the Chief Justice. Redacted information is given to the Judicial Education Commission for its use in planning judicial education programs.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE DESIRED IN A CONFERENCE TEAM MEMBER?
Conference Team members shall have outstanding competence and reputation and be sensitive to the needs of and held in high esteem by the communities they serve. The persons appointed shall reflect, to the extent possible, the geographic, ethnic, racial and gender diversity of those communities. Competence and diversity among the members will enhance fairness and public confidence in the judicial performance review process.
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HIGH STANDARDS ARE SET FOR ARIZONA’S JUDICIARY
*administer justice fairly, ethically, uniformly, promptly and efficiently;
*be free from personal bias when making decisions and decide cases based on the proper application of law;
*issue prompt rulings that can be understood and make decisions that demonstrate competent legal analysis;
*act with dignity, courtesy and patience; and
*effectively manage their courtrooms and the administrative responsibilities of their office.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Commission on Judicial Performance Review
1501 West Washington, Suite 221
Phoenix, Arizona 85007-3231
Telephone: (602) 452-3098
Fax: (602) 452-3652