Bluff City Report: Judges and BBQ

Today I am in Memphis to participate in the evaluations of our appellate judges. A couple years ago Lt. Gov. John S. Wilder appointed me to the Judicial Evaluation Commission. The Commission has the responsibility of evaluating judges and composing a summary statement about each judge for publication in newspapers before the upcoming retention election. Data is collected from lawyers who appear before the judges and other judges.

Obviously, the judges take this process very seriously. So do I. We are very fortunate to have a fine judiciary in this State, but appellate judges are not elected and face only a retention ballot and therefore I think it is very appropriate for judges to face an evaluation process. The key, of course, is trying to make the evaluation process meaningful and fair. We admittedly struggle with some issues – how do you define a “good” opinion – but I think the process is working and will continue to improve.

We have six days of interviews scheduled with judges across the state in the next couple months and then some additional dates set aside for discussion. We did a “practice” or “interim” session a year or so ago and it was taxing but interesting. There are a lot of judges and a lot of information.

We had six interviews today and have another three tomorrow morning. Then, it is back to Music City to work on a brief due Monday.

I have to add that I had dinner at the Rendevous tonight – a full platter, of course. I am going to have to use a steel wool brush to get the smell of BBQ off my hands!

That is the news from the Bluff City.