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The More You Know: How 360-Degree Feedback Could Help Federal District Judges

37 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009 Last revised: 12 Jul 2010

David K. Kessler

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Date Written: July 12, 2010


No formal program now exists to provide feedback to Federal district judges for purposes of their professional development. This article argues that creating such a program is both possible and beneficial because even the most capable judges could perform even more effectively if given more information about how they are performing. This article proposes the adoption of a well-known mechanism for gathering feedback in the business world, called “360-degree” feedback. In a 360-degree system, a person receives feedback from those “below” him, such as the people he manages and his customers, from his peers, and from his own managers or supervisors. Under a 360-degree feedback for the judiciary, district judges would receive feedback from the attorneys and litigants who appear before them, as well as court personnel, from other district judges, and from appellate judges. The purpose of such feedback would be performance development (helping judges become more effective) rather than performance evaluation (ranking and grading judges). The feedback, accordingly, would not be made public. In detailing how the 360-degree system would work, this article examines the current sources of feedback for district judges as well as introduces, for the first time in the judicial context, the rich academic and professional literature studying professional development in the management and business world.

Keywords: performance management, judicial performance evaluation, JPE, judicial evaluation, judging judges, 360-degree feedback, multisource, multirater

JEL Classification: K4

Suggested Citation

Kessler, David K., The More You Know: How 360-Degree Feedback Could Help Federal District Judges (July 12, 2010). Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, p. 687, 2010. Available at SSRN:

David K. Kessler (Contact Author)

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP ( email )

New York, NY 10019
United States

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