Volunteer Group Conducts Judicial Evaluations, Releases Results
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
An ad hoc committee created to conduct a peer review of Court of Appeals Judges and Supreme Court Justices who will sit for retention in the November general election today released the results of an evaluation of their performance by Kansas attorneys, law professors, and judges, who have appeared before them or rely on their work professionally.
The overwhelming majority of those responding to the survey either "somewhat recommended” or "strongly recommended” retaining the eight Court of Appeals judges and two Supreme Court justices on the November ballot for another term. Detailed results of the responses have been posted at a website established today at www.kansasjudgereview.org.
Because the surveys were conducted by an all-volunteer committee with only logistical assistance, only judges and justices at the appellate level were evaluated. Survey questions besides seeking the respondents’ conclusion about the retention question asked for measurements of such thing as overall performance, fairness, impartiality, quality of written opinions, timeliness of their work, and other legal benchmarks.
In November, voters will be asked whether to retain Justices Lee A. Johnson and Eric S. Rosen for another term, as well as Court of Appeals Judges Michael B. Buser, Henry W. Green Jr., Stephen D. Hill, Thomas E. Malone, Patrick D. McAnany, Anthony J. Powell, Kim R. Schroeder, and Melissa T. Standridge.
Survey questions were mailed to all licensed attorneys in Kansas—more than 11,000 people, but to make sure the results were meaningful, the Committee asked attorneys (some of whom are judges) to respond to the survey only if they had appeared before, worked with, or relied upon the work of at least one of the judges/justices under evaluation. Of the total, 1,185 judges and attorneys responded that they fell within one of the survey categories and completed questionnaires.
The Kansas Judicial Evaluation Committee was created at the urging of Gloria Farha Flentje, a Wichita attorney, who served on a prior statewide evaluation panel that was called the Commission on Judicial Performance. That Commission, which was charged with regularly conducting judicial evaluations, is now defunct due to withdrawal of funding by the Legislature.
"This new committee feels strongly that voters should have much more information available when they go to the polls to vote yes or no on whether a judge or justice of our highest courts should continue serving another term of office. Without such a review, voters have little or no information on which to cast an informed ballot,” Flentje said.
"Now, anyone interested in how those practicing attorneys or others professionally familiar with the work of the appellate judges view their performance can go to a website at www.kansasjudgereview.org and read detailed results from 1,185 knowledgeable respondents,” she said.
The Committee undertaking this November’s judicial review were all volunteers who met over the summer to create, administer, and analyze the survey results. Members include, Flentje, chair; James Concannon, Professor at Washburn University School of Law; Janine Cox, an attorney with the State Appellate Defender’s Office; Dennis Depew, attorney and past president of the Kansas Bar Association; Martha Garcia microbiologist and former member of the Commission on Judicial Evaluation; Richard Honeyman, attorney in private practice; Ron Keefover, President of the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government; Benet Magnuson, attorney and Executive Director of Kansas Appleseed; Larry McClain, retired Johnson County District Judge; Janis McMillen, a member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas League of Women Voters; David Morantz, Attorney and Board Member of the Mainstream Coalition; Steven Obermeier, of the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office; Sally Shattuck attorney in private practice; Sheryl Wohlford, a Kansas business woman; and Jordan Yochim, Executive Director of the Kansas Bar Association.