There is no mandatory judicial performance evaluation for the United States federal judiciary. However, individual judges can request that the Federal Judicial Center survey attorneys who have practiced before them. This program was originally designed for the bankruptcy courts but is now available to all federal judges. Survey questions address the judge’s impartiality and integrity, legal ability, professionalism, and work habits. Responses are anonymous and confidential, released only to the judge being evaluated. Caseload metrics are not considered in this evaluation process, though federal law mandates publication of semiannual reports documenting the rate at which judges dispose of cases and motions.

Some U.S. state court systems have adopted judicial performance evaluation programs. These programs differ on the extent to which results are publicized, but the evaluations are often intended to serve as a resource for voters during judicial elections. States may distribute questionnaires to attorneys (including prosecutors and defenders), jurors, and litigants. Other states use committees composed of attorneys, judges, and citizens to observe and assess performance, including courtroom demeanor, written decisions, and case-management skills. The Colorado Commission on Judicial Performance also asks about the judge’s service to the legal profession and the public. Local bar associations in the U.S. may distribute unofficial judicial performance evaluation surveys for federal and state court judges.