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The Trouble with Judges and Judging Them: Part IV

As noted in Part III of this series, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s terribly flawed “Judging the Judges” project, unfortunately, was not conducted by the RJ or its reporters.

It was actually produced by the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, whose stated mission on its website “is to understand and improve the lives of women and girls in our state through research, education, and action.”

Indeed, the Institute says it’s “dedicated to teaching and mentoring women and others who want to learn more about gender issues” and produces “scholarly work that yields new insights into the lives of experiences of women.”

Talk about gender bias!

And if that’s not enough to cast doubt on the the survey itself, consider this anonymous comment submitted by one of the participating lawyers in the project…

“Judge Pomrenze, ironically, hates women, including your female family law client, and female attorneys.”

Nah, there’s no gender-biased undertone to this project, is there?

Wait, wait.  It gets worse.  I researched the researcher.

The project was directed by a UNLV associate professor named Rebecca Gill – neither a lawyer nor a judge – who explained that she and her team were “solely responsible for the data collection and the analysis of the resulting data found in our report.”

In fact, Ms. Gill got her doctorate in “political science.”

A college poli-sci professor?  Like Democrat Rep. Dina “Impeach the Bastard” Titus?  What are the chances this gal might just be a liberal?  Well, let’s see…

“Dr. Gill is heavily involved in issues of gender and intersectional equity in academia,” according to her bio on UNLV’s website.  “Dr. Gill’s #MeToo story gained national media attention, and she remains dedicated to finding ways to combat sexual harassment and support survivors.”


Among her published/co-published works…

  • Competitive Advantage: Electing Women as Judges
  • Do Voters Prefer Women Judges?
  • How Masculinity Can Shape Judicial Decision Making
  • Chivalry, Masculinity, and the Importance of Maleness to Judicial Decision Making
  • Are Judicial Performance Evaluations Fair to Women and Minorities?
  • Implicit Gender Bias in State-Sponsored Judicial Performance Evaluations
  • Implicit Bias or Outright Sexism?
  • Gendered Justice: The Complex Relationship Between Gender-of-Judge, Gender-of-Attorney, and Gender-of-Litigant Effects in Immigration Appeals
  • How Judicial Performance Evaluations are Failing Women & Minorities

Sorry, but I’m not feeling much objectivity here.  It certainly seems like the “Judging the Judges” judge is more of a liberal feminist activist than unbiased researcher.  Maybe that’s just me.

But seriously.  If you were a man sitting on the bench, would you “feel” this project was free of liberal and/or gender bias?

Indeed, consider Appeals Court Judge Jerry Tao.

In its series, the RJ reported that “then-Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican, endorsed” Judge Tao his 2018 Supreme Court race, adding that “Tao also received support from other state Republicans.”

It went on to note that some anonymous respondents to the anonymous poll “felt that Tao could be biased in terms of race, gender (and) religion” and “some anonymous comments suggested his rulings sometimes carried conservative political undertones.”

Indeed, one of the published comments from one of the anonymous lawyers who participated in the anonymous survey claimed that Judge Tao “does seem to pander some to conservative or big business interests.”

Yet no similar criticism was reported on Judge Elissa Cadish, who defeated Tao in the Supreme Court race last year, despite the fact that she was endorsed by then-Senator Harry Reid and just about every left-wing labor union in the state, including the AFL-CIO, the state teachers union and the Culinary Union.


I don’t think so.  In fact, the “Judging the Judges” comments attacking Judge Tao certainly appear to be a non-stop carryover of the attacks against him during the 2018 campaign.

Indeed, the left went after Judge Tao with a vengeance for appearing to have a conservative judicial philosophy.  In fact, an anonymous (of course) politically-charged ethics complaint was filed against him over a campaign flyer that included the following…

“Is the Court going to drift even further to the left or can we change its direction? Do we want a Court that gets even more liberal or can we make it one that follows the Constitution and believes in individual liberty?”


Does any rational human being not think that some of the anonymous lawyers who voted not to retain Judge Tao in Ms. Gill’s anonymous survey had an anti-conservative agenda against him and took this opportunity to stick yet another political dagger in his back?

But even allowing for the obvious political and/or philosophical bias of the anonymous lawyers who participated in the survey, the overall subjective nature of the questions and comments published by the RJ cast serious doubt about the value of these retention ratings.

I’ll take a closer look at the seemingly unseemly published comments by some of the “voters” in Ms. Gill’s “Judging the Judges” poll in the next installment of my review of this series. Be there or be square.

P.S.  If you’re one of the evaluated judge willing to share the unpublished comments you received from this project, shoot them to me:

(Mr. Muth is president of and publisher of  He blogs at  His views are his own.)


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