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The Bar Poll

The results of the Houston Bar Association’s annual Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire are out. Here are the results for Houston’s federal judges and Harris County’s Criminal District Court and County Criminal Court Judges (they’re excerpted from the results for all judges touching Harris County cases, including appellate judges, here).

The numbers include number and percentage of “outstanding,” “acceptable,” and “poor” votes in several different categories. For an overall picture of lawyers’ perception of the Houston bench, here’s how I crunched the numbers: I took the percentage of “outstanding” votes in the “overall rating” category and subtracted the number of “poor votes” (I ignored the “acceptable” votes because “acceptable” is the very least we should require from our judiciary to come up with a “Judicial Competency Index” for each judge.

The federal judiciary have JCIs between -33.8 and +77.6, with a mean of 15.97. Three out of 9 federal judges received negative JCIs.

The Harris County Criminal District Court judiciary have JCIs between -47.2 and +59.7, with a mean of 29.7. Three out of 21 state district judges received negative JCIs.

The Harris County County Criminal Court judiciary have JCIs between +2.1 and +59.1, with a mean of 29.2.

I was surprised that our state judiciary (elected in partisan elections) did better on average in the poll than our appointed federal judiciary. The best of the federal judges did better than the best of the state judges, but the worst of the state judges did worse than the worst of the federal judges.

I’m not sure what it all means. 2008 is an election year; perhaps we’ll find out then.



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