Are Judicial Performance Evaluations Fair to Women and Minorities?: A Cautionary Tale from Clark County, Nevada

Law & Society Review, Vol. 45, pp. 731–759

Posted: 11 Mar 2012  

Rebecca D. Gill

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Sylvia R. Lazos

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Mallory Waters

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Date Written: September 19, 2011

Abstract

Because voters rely on judicial performance evaluations when casting their ballots, policymakers should work diligently to compile valid, reliable, and unbiased information about our sitting judges. Although some claim that judicial performance evaluations are fair, the systematic research needed to establish such a proposition has not been done. By the use of attorney judicial performance survey data from Clark County, Nevada, this analysis shows that objective measures of judicial performance cannot explain away differences in scores based on race and sex. Minority judges and female judges score consistently and significantly lower than do their white and male counterparts, all other things being equal. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that judicial performance evaluation surveys may carry with them unexamined and unconscious gender/race biases. Future research must compare judicial performance evaluation structure, content, and execution across states in order to identify those evaluation mechanisms least susceptible to unconscious gender and race bias.

Suggested Citation

Gill, Rebecca D. and Lazos, Sylvia R. and Waters, Mallory, Are Judicial Performance Evaluations Fair to Women and Minorities?: A Cautionary Tale from Clark County, Nevada (September 19, 2011). Law & Society Review, Vol. 45, pp. 731–759. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2020014

Rebecca D. Gill (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas ( email )

4505 S. Maryland Pkwy. Box 455029
Las Vegas, NV NV 89154
United States
7028952525 (Phone)
7028951065 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rebeccagill.net

Sylvia R. Lazos

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

Mallory Waters

University of Nevada, Las Vegas ( email )

4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

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