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How do we analyze whether a candidate will be an effective judge?

Eighth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Jerry Wiese shares some thoughts about our upcoming elections in this piece from the bar journal COMMUNIQUÉ (Sept. 2022).

As the newly elected Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court, I appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts about our upcoming elections. As members of the legal community, those who read the CCBA Communiqué are generally what we would consider the “educated electorate.” Many people, however, have no idea who to vote for, and they may vote based on how a name sounds, how an advertisement looks, or who made the fewest robo-calls. In this brief article, I hope to encourage you to do your homework and encourage others to do the same.

The first thing we should do, when conducting our election research, is consider the position for which an individual is running. Determine what types of decisions that elected person will make, and how those decisions will affect you and your community.

With regard to partisan elections, it’s important to explore a candidate’s positions or viewpoints on the issues that are important to you. A candidate’s website usually lists their platform and positions. Look for any speeches that they may have given, and their voting record if an incumbent. If possible, meet the candidate in person, and ask questions. Consider whether a particular candidate supports diversity, and whether they have any biases or prejudices which may affect that candidate’s decisions. If there is a candidate debate, consider focusing less on how well a candidate presents on television, and focus more on the positions taken on the various issues debated. However, how a candidate appears in public, may have a huge impact on the candidate’s effectiveness if elected.

For judicial elections, a judge’s role is to be neutral and unbiased. As voters, we cannot evaluate a candidate’s position or viewpoint on a specific issue. We elect judges to be fair and to maintain justice. So how do we analyze whether a candidate will be an effective judge? In googling “what makes a good judge?” the responses included qualities like patience, humility, and integrity. Judges needs logic and intelligence, to be able to understand, analyze, and apply rules and laws. Judges need a temperament that allows them to communicate with counsel, jurors, witnesses, and parties, calmly, courteously, and with respect. Perhaps most importantly, judges needs a personal code of ethics, which sets them apart from others, and which allows them to make fair, impartial, and unbiased decisions, without regard to the identity of the parties or attorneys, and without regard to how the decisions might affect the judge politically.

Please take the time to research and decide which candidates will be the “best” in their respective elections. Once you have decided, vote yourself, and discuss your findings with others. We want the best and the brightest in all branches of government.

About this article: This article was originally published in the “Election” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (September 2022). See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2022/communique-september-2022/.

About the author
Judge Jerry Wiese

Chief Judge Jerry Wiese was elected to the District Court Dept. 30 bench in 2011. He now serves as the Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court.

© 2022 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

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