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Judicial Ratings Committee

The Bar Association of Niagara County receives a number of questions about the make up and procedure of its Judicial Ratings Committee. Each year the Board of Directors appoints members of the Bar Association to serve on the Judicial Ratings Committee. No more than five members may be of the same political affiliation, and no member may publicly endorse, support or oppose any candidate for political office.

The Judicial Ratings Committee rates any person nominated for, or who has filed nomination petitions for, judicial office in Supreme Court, Niagara County Court, Niagara County Surrogate Court, Niagara County Family Court, and the City Courts of Niagara Falls, Lockport, and North Tonawanda, and the Justice Courts within Niagara County.

The candidates who request a judicial rating from the Committee are required to complete a written questionnaire. The questionnaire serves as the application for the rating. The Committee in its ratings considers the candidates' integrity, experience, professional ability, education, reputation, industry, temperament, fairness, statutory standards, attitude, and punctuality. After interviewing the candidates, the Committee makes a determination as the Applicant's rating. The rating determinations are "A-Superior," "B-ell-Qualified," "C-Qualified," and "D- Not Recommended."

The Judicial Ratings Committee notifies each applicant's rating determination within three to four days after the candidate's interview. The Committee only discloses the candidate's ratings to the candidate. The candidate may use the rating in whatever way the candidate chooses. The Bar Association of Niagara County and its Judicial Ratings Committee does not make public a candidate's rating. The only exception is when a candidate misrepresents the rating actually received from the Committee. The Committee, in that event, would make a public correction.

Bench and Bar Committee

The Bar Association of Niagara County established a Bench and Bar Committee, consisting of a cross-section of judges and attorneys representing different courts and areas of practice in 2004.

The Committee was formed as a conduit between attorneys and the judiciary to foster and develop an ongoing dialogue that will promote efficient operation of the Courts and assist attorneys in the management of this practice.

The Committee agreed that it would serve as an informal intermediary between members of the bench and the bar. If an attorney has an issue with the policies of procedures of a court of a member of the court, the attorney could contact the committee member anonymously to discuss the matter and how it should be addressed. In addition, the Bench and Bar Committee could be the conduit for the Judges, court personnel, bar members of the Committee, and other practitioners to meet to discuss and decided policies, procedures, initiatives, etc. at issue.

In the event that an issue involves more than policies and procedures (for example, personality conflicts between a judge and an attorney), the Bench and Bar committee could similarly act as an intermediary.

At this point, the Bench and Bar Committee would like you to keep in mind when you have an idea that might promote the more efficient operation of the Courts, and/or may assist you and your colleagues in the management of their practice.

The Committee members want to hear you ideas, issues, and concerns.