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Judicial Performance and Education Programs

Judicial Performance Program: A Brief Description

photograph of a judge's bench

Through the collection of objective, reliable, and consistent evaluation information, the Program seeks to enhance judicial performance on an individual and institutional basis.

The stated goals of the Program are as follows: 1) The improvement of judicial performance on an individual and institutional basis; 2) The enrichment of judicial educational programs; 3) The efficient assignment and use of judges within the Judiciary; and 4) The enhancement of the reappointment process.

Anonymous questionnaires are sent to attorneys who participate in actual cases before judges in the Program. Attorneys are asked to evaluate judges on over 30 performance standards in areas of legal ability, judicial management skills, and comportment.

Appellate judges are also sent anonymous questionnaires to evaluate trial court judges when their rulings are appealed.

Results of the evaluation are shared with the individual judge, assignment judge, Supreme Court, Governor, Senate Judiciary Committee, and Judicial Evaluation Commission. (The Commission is composed of nine retired judges who assist the individual judges in utilizing their evaluations.)

Where and When started:

The Program was adopted by the Supreme Court in November 1986. The Program was implemented in April 1987 and is centrally administered by staff to the Committee in Trenton.

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Judicial Education Program: Brief Program Description:

Through education and training, the Administrative Office of the Courts strives to enhance the ability of judges to deal with the volume of cases more expeditiously, surely and equitably than their present performance.

The New Jersey Judicial Education Program calls for the channeling of resources and energies toward the fulfillment of four primary objectives:

1. To refine the formal training activities for new judges and experienced judges with new assignments;

2. To strengthen and expand continuing education programs for all judges;

3. To develop programs which address the distinct educational needs of judges who work in highly specialized areas of the law;

4. To provide training opportunities which improve public access to and knowledge of the judicial system.

These objectives are met through the following activities:

The Orientation Program is designed to facilitate the transition of newly-appointed judges from bar to bench and to provide comprehensive training in the State's judicial practices and procedures. The Program includes an advisor judge component and access to voluminous materials including an audio-video library.

Divisional Comprehensive Judicial Orientation Programs (CJOP) offer newly appointed and rotated judges immediate training in their new assignments from experienced judge faculty.

The Judicial College and the judicial seminars provide judges with a wide range of academic programs to keep abreast of developments in the law and judicial administration. Particular attention has been paid to alcohol and substance abuse training. Judges have participated in a full gamut of courses, ranging from pharmacology to treatment. Attention was also given to numerous programs on women and minorities' issues such as gender bias, minorities and the courts, cultural awareness, and sexual harassment.

Divisional conferences – Family, Civil and Criminal – provide judges and key court support staff the opportunity to increase expertise in special areas of the law, to benefit from the knowledge of experts in particular areas of the law and law-related disciplines, and to contribute to the knowledge of their peers through participatory workshops.

The Audio-Video Library has been expanded to include virtually all educational programs. The CD's and related materials are duplicated and made available on a loan basis to judges and court staff. These items are also available for live streaming and immediate access on the InfoNet.

Contribution to Overall Goal of Judiciary:

After a careful review of the scope and extent of judicial education in New Jersey, the 1988 Annual Report of the Family Division Practice Committee concluded that New Jersey's comprehensive approach, utilizing many different types of programs, demonstrates this State's commitment to judicial education. The Committee further stated that "New Jersey's efforts in judicial education rank it among the leaders in the country … the importance of an ongoing program of judicial education insures that quality, not simply quantity, justice is provided."

Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Education:

The Judicial Education Unit works under the guidance of the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Education. The committee is composed of 30 members representing judges of the Civil, Criminal, and Family Divisions, as well as the Appellate Division. Assignment judges and presiding judges are also represented, along with members of the Bar. Major areas of responsibility of the Committee include: Curriculum development, faculty selection, and program evaluation.

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