Rating judges online

April 15, 2011
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In doing a little research for a story, I came across ratethecourts.com. This site lets people anonymously rate any judge, and even judicial nominees. In addition to being able to fill out a survey about the judge’s performance, the site also lets you cast a vote if you think a particular judge is the worst judge of 2010.

One thing I found interesting about the survey is that, while you are anonymous, you need to respond as to your relationship with the judge – attorney, juror, litigant, witness, etc.

Judges who have been rated are assigned a letter grade, and you can search by location to see who had the highest grades, lowest grades, most comments, most negative comments, most positive comments, and more. The results may be deceiving because most judges – Indiana included – only have had a couple of surveys completed on them.

Like a lot of websites that rate things anonymously – hotels, clothing, restaurants – you have to digest the results intelligently. While a lot of bar associations conduct surveys anonymously, those are done with attorneys who practice before these judges, not the general public who may have had an unfavorable or favorable outcome in the courtroom.

Another component of this site is a forum where you can leave comments on judges. Again, this is where disgruntled people can say what they want about the judge, sometimes fueled by the negative outcome in their cases. But some people do leave positive comments. Lawyers also comment, as one wrote that an Indiana judge was a pleasure to appear before as an attorney.

I’m a fan of review sites. I tend to look up hotels before I book one to see what others’ experiences were. When it comes to rating a judicial experience involving the general public, it may be a bit skewed because those who had a negative outcome in their case will be more likely to say the judge was a bad judge even if he or she did their job correctly and fairly.

What are your thoughts on these kinds of judicial rating websites that allow anyone to fill out a survey and comment?

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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