Lawyers Who Should know them rate local judges

SM Steel-Houston Chronicle

Houston-area residents can't pick the courts in which they might appear to argue a traffic ticket, challenge a foreclosure or dispute child custody in a divorce, but the Houston Bar Association offers some insight about the presiding judges.

The association, which has conducted a judicial evaluation poll since the early 1970s, recently released its latest survey that includes lawyers' assessments of dozens of state and local appellate judges, federal judges, civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate judges, justices of the peace and municipal judges.

The poll, conducted every two years, rates judges on several factors, including whether they rule decisively and timely, show courteous and attentive behavior toward attorneys and witnesses, demonstrate impartiality, use lawyers' time efficiently, work hard and come to court prepared.

While there were clear winners and losers in the poll, it's important to remember that the number of respondents is small.

Only 14 percent of Bar Association members who had online access to the evaluation completed the survey. Members were asked to base their opinions only on firsthand knowledge of individual judges.