GOOD RESPONSE TO ELECTRONIC JNE QUESTIONNAIRES

Media Contact: Diane Curtis              415-538-2028          diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, Aug. 30, 2010 — A decision by the State Bar’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE) to go digital with its evaluation forms has prompted a positive response from California attorneys.

“The confidential electronic forms were created to garner more responses, relieve commissioners of administrative burdens and reduce postage,” said JNE Chair Alice Salvo. “The initial response shows that all three goals will be achieved. JNE is getting more responses more quickly with the electronic questionnaire than with the mail version.”

In July, confidential comment forms were sent by e-mail to attorneys in Monterey, San Diego, San Joaquin, Sacramento and Sonoma counties and in August to Los Angeles, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Fresno and Madera counties, following an earlier test run to Ventura County lawyers.

JNE is the State Bar agency that evaluates all candidates who are under consideration for a judicial appointment by the governor. It is made up of attorneys and public members who represent a broad cross-section of California's diverse legal profession and general population.

In their effort to establish a rating – exceptionally well-qualified, well-qualified, qualified, not qualified – JNE commissioners query hundreds of lawyers and judges by sending out confidential comment forms. The commission must receive at least 50 credible responses from the mailings before rating the candidate. Investigating commissioners also interview the candidate.

By statute, all JNE evaluations and ratings are confidential. However, if a candidate is found not qualified by the commission and the governor then appoints that candidate to a trial court, the State Bar may publicly disclose that fact. Also, when the governor nominates a person for the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, the commission makes a report at the public hearing of the Commission on Judicial Appointments for each candidate regardless of the rating of the commission.

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The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By August 2010, membership reached 228,000.