Judicial Candidate Ratings

The Ventura County Bar Association has released ratings of the candidates in both contested judicial elections.

The ratings are established by the Bar Association’s 13 member Judicial Evaluations Committee, which investigates and evaluates judicial candidates in elections, and those seeking appointment by the Governor. The rating assigned can be Exceptionally Well Qualified, Well Qualified, Qualified or Not Qualified. Candidates are rated in the categories of Professional Ability, Professional Experience, Judicial Temperament, Professional Reputation and Work Ethic/Resource Management, and receive a rating in each category on the following performance scale: Outstanding, Very Good, Satisfactory, Below Average, Unsatisfactory or Unknown.

Judge Ellen Gay Conroy has been rated as Exceptionally Well Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge. Judge Conroy was rated Outstanding in the categories of Professional Ability, Judicial Temperament, Professional Reputation and Work Ethic/Resource Management. She received a rating of Very Good in the category of Professional Experience.

Robert J. Taylor has been rated as Not Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge. Mr. Taylor was rated Below Average in the category of Professional Reputation. He was rated Unsatisfactory in the categories of Professional Experience and Judicial Temperament, and received a rating of Unknown in the categories of Professional Ability and Work Ethic/Resource Management.

Lela Henke-Dobroth has been rated as Not Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge. Ms. Henke-Dobroth was rated Very Good in the categories of Professional Ability, Professional Experience and Work Ethic/Resource Management. She received a rating of Unsatisfactory in the categories of Judicial Temperament and Professional Reputation.

Ryan Wright has been rated as Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge. Mr. Wright was rated Very Good in the categories of Professional Ability, Judicial Temperament and Professional Reputation. He received a rating of Satisfactory in the categories of Professional Experience and Work Ethic/Resource Management.

A rating of Exceptionally Well Qualified means the candidate’s performance in each rating category is remarkably or extraordinarily superior, so that, without real doubt, the candidate is fit to perform in judicial office with distinction.

A rating of Well Qualified means that the candidate’s performance in each rating category is indicative of superior fitness to perform in the judicial office with a high degree of skill and effectiveness.

A rating of Qualified means that the candidate’s performance in each rating category is indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function satisfactorily.

A rating of Not Qualified means that the candidate’s performance in one or more of the rating categories indicates a lack of fitness to perform satisfactorily in the judicial office.

The Committee establishes a rating based upon confidential comment forms provided by lawyers and judges, active or retired, who are reasonably likely to have knowledge of the candidate’s qualifications. Comment forms are provided to lawyers and judges whose names are provided to the Committee by the candidate. The Committee also seeks comment from a broad cross-section of lawyers and judges in the counties and the areas of law in which the candidate practices or serves as a judicial officer.

In addition to the confidential comment forms, each candidate is asked to provide the Committee with a personal data questionnaire that provides personal background information. Each candidate is also personally interviewed by the Committee, which provides the candidate with an opportunity to respond to adverse information, and present any additional information that may support the candidate’s qualifications for judicial office.

A candidate may decline to return the personal data questionnaire, or may decline to participate in the personal interview. The Committee is permitted to consider the candidate’s failure to participate in evaluating a candidate. Mr. Taylor declined to participate in the evaluation. Ms. Henke-Dobroth failed to provide the Committee with a personal data questionnaire, and with a list of lawyers and judges with knowledge of her qualifications during the investigation phase of the evaluation.

The Committee’s ratings and evaluation process is governed by the Judicial Evaluations Committee rules.

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