29 Oct, Thursday
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Utah Judges’ Evaluation open to public for 2020 election

Salt Lake City— The Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) today announces the release of its evaluations of all Utah judges on the ballot this November. Fifty-nine judges will stand for retention election across the state: one justice of the Utah Supreme Court justice, six judges on the Utah Court of Appeals judges, 20 district court judges, nine juvenile court judges, and 23 justice court judges from cities and counties across Utah.

JPEC encourages all voters to “know your judges” before they vote. Detailed evaluation results may be found online at judges.utah.gov. This year, all 59 judges on the ballot earned a recommendation in favor of retention.

“Voters play an important role in our state’s retention system for judges. We want voters to understand that JPEC works consistently with judges across their six-year terms of office to give judges performance feedback,” said Gil Miller, chair of JPEC. “Most judges address any deficits and improve so they earn a recommendation of retention from the Commission at election time. The process works continually at performance improvement.”

Judges receive their results from JPEC prior to deciding if they will put their names on the ballot. If they resign or retire, in accordance with state law, JPEC does not publish their results.

When the evaluation cycle began on January 1, 2018, 74 judges were eligible to stand for retention in 2020. At the end of the survey cycle (9/30/2019), JPEC completed 65 judicial evaluation reports for judges eligible to stand for retention in 2020. Fifty-nine (59) judges declared their intent to stand for retention in July and will appear on the ballot this November. In addition, JPEC completed 76 midterm evaluation reports on judges who will be eligible for retention in 2022.

“The quality of our justice system depends on voters taking the time to vote. Even in years where no judge runs with a ‘do not retain’ recommendation, it is important for voters to finish their ballots, including voting on the judges,” said Shannon Sebahar, a citizen commissioner from Weber County since 2013. “Because of the diversity among judges in terms of their performance, JPEC’s detailed information about judges is valuable insight for Utah voters.”

JPEC surveys lawyers, jurors, court staff, and allied professionals about the performance of judges. Commissioners consider objective data on judicial performance, including time standards, continuing judicial education, and instances of judicial discipline. The Commission also relies on trained volunteers to conduct courtroom observation in courts across the state. JPEC accepts public comment on the performance of judges at judges.utah.gov/about-us/public-comments.

Utah’s three branches of government appoint JPEC’s 13 commissioners to staggered terms. Commissioners serve as volunteers and are from diverse professions, backgrounds, and geographic parts of Utah.