Panel That Evaluates Judges Works In Secret

Panel That Evaluates Judges Works In Secret

CREATED Mar 15, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is a powerful panel that helps the public decide whether Tennessee's Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges should keep their jobs.

Public interest in the commission's work may be at an all-time high as voters contemplate a constitutional amendment over the way judges are selected and retained.

But the public only got a glimpse of the evaluation process this past year. An open records request from The Associated Press found commission members conducted some of their business by email and conference call, outside public view. Even at its scheduled meetings, most work took place in executive session, where members of the public are not allowed to be present.

Commission members say rules require most of their work to be confidential. Open government advocates disagree.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)