Edward F. Hennessey IV Leads Judicial Review Committee’s Efforts for North Carolina Bar Association



July 17, 2012

Edward F. Hennessey IV, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw, has been reappointed chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association committee that recently completed the first performance survey of non-incumbent Superior and District Court judicial candidates.

The Administration of Justice Committee monitors the civil and criminal justice systems in North Carolina and addresses such important issues as overcrowded court dockets, creation of new courts, public defender’s offices and judicial salaries. The NCBA Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee, created during Hennessey’s tenure as chairman, worked with the AOJ Committee to conduct the first statewide performance evaluation of candidates filing to run against incumbent judges.

The results of this non-incumbent survey, combined with the survey of incumbents recently conducted by the JPE Committee, served as the basis for a comprehensive survey of candidate performance evaluations made available prior to the May 2012 primary elections, and that will continue as an essential reference through the 2012 election cycle. The NCBA anticipates conducting and publishing performance evaluations of incumbent and non-incumbent trial judge candidates to inform voters in subsequent election years.

“It can be difficult even for lawyers to gain reliable information about incumbent judges and their challengers,” Hennessey said. “This survey has proven to be helpful for legal professionals, but it is designed for everybody and it has been very well received by the public.”

The landing page containing the survey results also includes North Carolina judicial districting maps, voter polling places, candidate lists and other voter resources. Viewers can review judges’ evaluations by district, and there is a candidate search function as well.

The initial survey was distributed electronically to more than 20,000 practicing attorneys in North Carolina and generated 4,278 unique responses yielding 27,700 individual evaluations of judges. Judges and candidates are rated on a numeric scale, ranging from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), in areas including Integrity and Impartiality, Legal Ability, Professionalism, Communication, Administrative Skills and Overall Performance. Nearly 170 North Carolina judges – 17 Superior Court and 151 District Court – were included. Judges who announced before Dec. 27, 2011, that they would not seek re-election in 2012 were not included in the survey.

Larry Nelson, emeritus professor with the Department of Statistics at North Carolina State University, was enlisted to evaluate the collected data and ensure that the collected sample set is adequate. BDO USA, a national accounting firm with offices in Raleigh and Charlotte, provided auditing and verification services for the survey, Hennessey said.

The Administration of Justice Committee also established a template to help establish surveys for future election cycles.

Hennessey, whose litigation practice at Robinson Bradshaw includes the representation of claimants and defendants in construction, corporate and other business-related litigation, began his third year as chairman of the Administration of Justice Committee in July.

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