Native judges get excessive marks from attorneys | Native Information

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Local judges get high marks from attorneys | Local News

YORK – York County District Judge James Stecker and York County Judge Linda Caster-Senff earned high marks from attorneys in this year’s Judicial Performance Evaluation.

The Nebraska State Bar Association released the results of the evaluation this week.

All the judges in the state were reviewed by attorneys and those responding recommended that 100 percent of the 144 judges evaluated be retained on the bench.

The bar association first used the judicial evaluation poll in 1984. It is conducted biennially.

“The poll provides an important way to provide feedback to the judiciary and the results confirm that judges in all Nebraska courts are effectively serving the people of Nebraska,” said Steve Mattoon, president of the Nebraska Bar Association.

An electronic survey was sent to 5,553 active bar members living in Nebraska, Council Bluffs and Sioux City, Iowa, and Yankton, S.D. The attorneys were instructed to evaluate only the judges with whom they had recent, firsthand professional experience – or in the case of appeals court judges, with those whose written opinions they were familiar. Ultimately, 1,088 members of the bar completed the evaluation and a research firm in Lincoln compiled the results.

A scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the best) was used to score the judges’ performance in a variety of areas.

Judge Stecker earned a rating an overall rating of 4.12 in the area of legal analysis and a 4.43 in the area of impartiality. He was given a 4.26 for attentiveness during arguments and testimony; a 4.12 in the area of quality and clarity of writing in his opinions; and a 4.19 in the area of judicial temperament and demeanor. Judge Stecker’s rating for appropriate communication was 4.37; he earned a 4.25 for performance of work in a prompt and timely manner; and 4.31 in the area of fairness. Regarding efficiency as far as docket management and scheduling, Judge Stecker earned a 4.16 and 4.37 for punctuality. He was also given a 4.35 for trial management.

The attorneys were asked if he should be retained in office and 84.4 percent said yes.

Judge Senff earned a rating an overall rating of 4.29 in the area of legal analysis and a 4.24 in the area of impartiality. She was given a 4.48 for attentiveness during arguments and testimony; a 4.32 in the area of quality and clarity of writing in her opinions; and a 4.20 in the area of judicial temperament and demeanor. Judge Senff’s rating for appropriate communication was 4.30; she earned a 4.37 for performance of work in a prompt and timely manner; and 4.45 in the area of fairness. Regarding efficiency as far as docket management and scheduling, Judge Senff earned a 4.32 and 4.46 for punctuality. She also earned a 4.41 for trial management.

The attorneys were asked if she should be retained in office and 95.5 percent said yes.