Thinking about Judges and Judicial Performance: Perspective of the Public and Court Users


  • David Rottman National Center for State Courts
  • Tom Tyler Yale Law School


Judicial Performance Evaluation, judges, measurement, procedural fairness, Evaluación del rendimiento judicial, jueces, medición, legitimidad procesal


Studies of the courts, conducted primarily in the United States, suggest that the way legal professionals think about judging underpins nearly all official evaluations of judicial performance. The general public has a different view than lawyers of judging that merits consideration along with the type of criteria emphasized by the legal community. Research demonstrates that the public places the greatest importance on the extent to which a judge reaches decisions through a process that meets the public's expectations of fairness. Surveys of California residents and California attorneys are used to demonstrate the importance of procedural justice for explaining whether people have trust in the courts and regard court decisions as legitimate. The article describes and critiques existing judicial performance evaluation programs that incorporate procedural justice principles as a dimension for measuring judicial quality through both survey and observational methods.

Los estudios sobre tribunales llevados a cabo principalmente en Estados Unidos, sugieren que la opinión sobre el hecho de juzgar de los profesionales del derecho están detrás de casi todas las evaluaciones del rendimiento judicial oficiales. El público general tiene una visión del hecho de juzgar diferente a la de los abogados, que debe tenerse en cuenta junto con los criterios destacados por la comunidad jurídica. La investigación demuestra que el público da mayor importancia a que un juez tome una decisión a través de un proceso que cumpla con sus expectativas de justicia. Se emplean encuestas a residentes de California y abogados de California para demostrar la importancia de la justicia procesal, a la hora de explicar si la gente tiene confianza en los tribunales y perciben las decisiones judiciales como legítimas. El artículo describe y critica los programas de evaluación del rendimiento judicial que incorporan principios de justicia procesal como una dimensión para medir la calidad judicial, tanto a través de encuestas como de métodos de observación.


Author Biographies

David Rottman, National Center for State Courts

David Rottman is a principal court researcher at the National Center for State Courts. His current research concerns the effectiveness of specialized courts, minority group opinions of courts, and methods for evaluating judicial performance. With Tom Tyler and Judges Kevin Burke and Steve Leven, he co-founded to promote implementation of procedural justice principles to all aspects of court operations. He previously worked at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

Tom Tyler, Yale Law School

Tom Tyler is a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School. His research focuses on authority dynamics within organized groups, and his research demonstrates that the legitimacy of authorities and institutions, like courts, is strongly linked to judgments about fairness. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and more than one hundreds articles. Tyler's work served as the basis for efforts to redesign California state courts as part of a procedural-fairness initiative. He has also been active in studying the police and policing models in Chicago, California, and New York. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles.




How to Cite

Rottman, D. and Tyler, T. (2014) “Thinking about Judges and Judicial Performance: Perspective of the Public and Court Users”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 4(5), pp. 1046–1070. Available at: (Accessed: 5 December 2021).



Empirical research findings