Sacrificing Diversity for 'Quality': How Judicial Performance Evaluations are Failing Women and Minorities
Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-14
20 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 29 Jul 2010
Date Written: April 5, 2010
Because voters rely on judicial performance evaluations when casting their ballots, it is important that policymakers work diligently to compile valid, reliable and unbiased information about our sitting judges. This paper analyzes attorney surveys of judicial performance in Nevada from 1998-2008. The survey instrument is similar to those used throughout the country for judicial evaluation programs. Unfortunately, none of the readily-obtainable objective measures of judicial performance can explain away difference in scores based on race and sex. Minority judges and female judges score consistently and significantly lower than do their white male counterparts, all other things equal. These results are troubling, but consistent with the hypothesis that judicial performance evaluation surveys carry with them unexamined and unconscious gender/race biases.
Keywords: judicial performance evaluation, race bias, gender bias
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