Are you a registered voter in Southwest Utah and don’t know names like Troy Little, Jeffrey C. Wilcox or Douglas Whitlock?
Don’t feel too bad. These are the names of some of the judges who will appear on voter ballots as Judicial Reserve candidates in the 2022 election, but most judges won’t become household names even in the districts where they preside. Nearly a quarter of Utah voters don’t even bother to fill out the judicial hold portion of their ballot, state election officials said.
That will at least change with the unveiling of a newly designed state website Thursday, where voters can find out which judges are on their ballots and view detailed performance records kept by the Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Board.
website, judge.utah.govJPEC executive director Jennifer Yim said that included a list of judges who participated in this year’s ballot, as well as helping visitors navigate performance records and other information.
“Determining key information about judges in Utah is critical when it comes to voting on whether Utah judges should keep their seats on the bench,” Yim said.
Utah is one of the few states still using Judicial Reserve elections, where judges do not compete with other candidates on the ballot, but instead ask voters a simple “yes” or “no” to decide Whether the judge should serve another candidate for the semester.
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JPEC was established in 2008 to develop an independent assessment of judges for use by voters.
Most judges are graded as “meeting or exceeding” the minimum performance standards set by the committee, although there are occasional exceptions. This may make it difficult for voters to consider voting against the reservation, but the revamped website makes it easier to view more specific records and see the results of investigations conducted on each judge.
The site allows visitors to navigate to a comprehensive snapshot of all 63 judges reserved for this year, as well as a personal summary for each judge and an infographic to make the results easier to visualize.
“We’ve made the site more user-friendly overall, with clearer links and view buttons, so voters know they have access to the full report on the judge,” Yim said.
JPEC creates performance reports based on courtroom observations, courtroom user interviews, and surveys with courtroom attendants, attorneys, and others.
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“These assessments provide in-depth details about the judges, and voters told us there was value in these before they voted,” Yim said.
The site also allows the public to comment on any judge from anywhere in the state. Comments can be made anonymously.
Three Utah government departments appointed JPEC’s 13 commissioners in a staggered fashion.
David DeMille writes about southwest Utah for The Spectrum & Daily News, the St. George-based USA TODAY network newsroom.follow him @SpectrumDeMille Or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.To support and sustain this work, please Subscribe today.