Since Iowa adopted its merit system for selecting judges in 1962, The Iowa State Bar Association has conducted the Judicial Performance Review as a way of giving voters information on the Iowa judges up for retention that election year.
Under Iowa’s judicial merit selection system, judges are appointed by the governor after going through an extensive interview and evaluation process by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Voters then decide during the November elections whether the judges should remain in office.
In order for attorneys to be eligible to rate a judge or justice, attorneys must have appeared before him or her frequently. Attorneys rate the judges on eight (six for appellate court justices and judges) questions related to their professional competence; i.e., knowledge and application of the law, perception of factual issues, attentiveness to arguments and testimony, management and control of the courtroom, and promptness of rulings and decisions. The ratings range from 1-5 with 5 being “excellent” and 1 being “very poor.”