Twenty years ago, I helped lead a statewide effort to examine racial bias in Utah’s justice system. Although it persuaded some leaders about the existence of racial profiling and disparate outcomes for people of color, our earnest efforts clearly made less progress than many of our participants hoped.
The repeated cries of protest in our summer streets remind us that people need to participate actively in making the policies that affect us all. I urge citizens to make their calls for equal justice and accountability heard in an additional way: by voting.
This November, 60 judges across Utah will appear on our ballots. Nearly all of these judges make decisions that affect criminal justice outcomes.
Voters hold judges accountable by deciding whether they may serve another term of office. Criminal justice system accountability starts with collecting data on key decision makers, such as judges. Do you know how judges treat people who come to court? Have you asked lawyers, court staff, jurors, and other professionals about a judge’s performance? Have you sat in court to observe judges?
The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission has answers to these questions and provides independent judge evaluations. Voters can start now to decide how to vote on judges by reviewing the evaluations posted at judges.utah.gov.
If you care about equal justice, please participate in the November election and resolve to vote on judges.
Jennifer Yim, Salt Lake City
executive director, Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission