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Because voters rely on judicial performance evaluations when casting their ballots, it is important that policymakers work diligently to compile valid, reliable and unbiased information about our sitting judges. This paper analyzes attorney surveys of judicial performance in Nevada from 1998‐2008. The survey instrument is similar to those used throughout the country for judicial evaluation programs. Unfortunately, none of the readily‐obtainable objective measures of judicial performance can explain away difference in scores based on race and sex. Minority judges and female judges score consistently and significantly lower than do their white male counterparts, all other things equal. These results are troubling, but consistent with the hypothesis that judicial performance evaluation surveys carry with them unexamined and unconscious gender/race biases.


The final version of this article was published as Rebecca D. Gill, Sylvia R. Lazos & Mallory M. Waters, Are Judicial Performance Evaluations Fair to Women and Minorities? A Cautionary Tale from Clark County, Nevada, 45 Law & Soc’y Rev. 731 (2011).

The final version, as published in the print edition of the Law and Society Review, is available at this link online. It is also accessible via the journal’s website at or

Publication Citation

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-14.