Attorneys Weigh In On Judges’ Retention

The Wyoming State Bar today released the results of this year’s Judicial Advisory Poll.

The Bar, in cooperation with the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming, conducts this poll not only to obtain attorneys’ feedback about judges’ performance, but also to learn whether or not attorneys think those judges standing for retention should remain in office.

Wyoming judges are appointed by a process in which the Judicial Nominating Commission screens applicants before recommending three qualified candidates to the Governor. The Governor then makes his selection from those three candidates. Both attorneys and non-attorneys serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Wyoming’s five Supreme Court Justices must stand for retention every eight years. This means that voters go to the polls during each General Election and decide whether or not those justices standing for retention should be retained in office.

District Court Judges in Wyoming stand for retention every six years, and Circuit Court Judges face a retention vote every four years. The poll only includes the question regarding a judge’s retention if that judge stands for retention that particular year.

If the results of the General Election indicate that a judge should not be retained in office, the Judicial Nominating Commission would then advertise for applicants to fill the vacancy.

All active members of the Wyoming State Bar were invited to participate in the poll. This year 46% of those members participated, which is an increase from the 41% response rate in the 2014 poll. In order to evaluate and comment on a judge’s performance, an attorney affirms to the pollsters that he/she has indeed appeared before that particular judge during the previous two years. In the case of Supreme Court Justices, evaluations are also allowed based on reading written opinions from those justices.

The poll is NOT a competition between judges, as different attorneys are evaluating each judge. The poll is to assist a judge in identifying areas of opportunity for improvement.

The results of the Poll can be found online by clicking here. To see past Judicial Advisory Polls, click here.

The Wyoming State Bar undertook its first judicial evaluation poll in 1976 and has completed one each election year since.  The goals and uses of the poll conform to the American Bar Association’s guidelines as well as to the practices of other bar associations.

The Wyoming State Bar is composed of all attorneys licensed to practice law in Wyoming. The mission of the Wyoming State Bar is to regulate the practice of law, facilitate the provision of quality legal services to the public, and assist attorneys in the professional practice of law.

Any questions regarding the poll should be directed to Sharon Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar, at (307) 432-2102.