Bar helps voters get to know judicial picks

Posted October 8, 2012 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2012 12:52 p.m. EDT

Even voters who try to be informed sometimes struggle with judicial races. Information about judges can be hard to find, and rarely does a judicial candidate raise enough money for campaign advertising.

In 2008, about 4.3 million North Carolinians cast a ballot. About one in three left the boxes for statewide judicial races blank. The rate of voting for trial judges was even lower. 

In a public service announcement, the North Carolina Bar Association asked voters why they would forgo a choice.

 "The response we got back was they don't know, they skip over it, or they're embarrassed to say they just flip a coin or something along those lines," said David Bohm of the bar association.

That's why the group developed a website to provide non-partisan candidate information along with ratings of judges' work by their peers.

"Any attorney that had professional contact with the judges was asked to participate in the survey," Bohm said. "(We) asked six questions of qualities of judicial candidates."

The attorneys rated judge candidates on their  integrity, legal ability, professionalism, communication, administrative skills and overall performance.

"People have to know that information," Bohm said. " You don't want them to skip. You don't want it to be partisan. You want them to be an informed voter when they go to the ballot box."