Home Judicial Performance Evaluations 1996 Full List Judge DeVilbiss

Ninth Judicial District - District Judge

Honorable J. E. DeVilbiss

Retention year: 1996
Recommendation: No Opinion

Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation: THE COMMISSION IS EVENLY DIVIDED; THEREFORE, THERE IS NO OPINION.

There is a division on the retention of District Jude Judson E. DeVilbiss. Six members of the Commission participated in the deliberation. Three voted in favor and three against retaining Judge DeVilbiss.

Of the attorneys responding to questionnaires, 24 attorneys or 58.5% of those responding recommended Judge DeVilbiss be retained and 17 attorneys, or 41.5% recommended he not be retained. The division is more strongly expressed on written comments from attorneys. The Commission believes that the critical issue in in Judge DeVilbiss’ delay in ruling on motions and in rendering written opinions in civil cases. On the civil side of Judge DeVilbiss’ duties, there is a strongly expressed criticism which cannot be ignored: “It takes him months and years to make rulings…”

On the favorable side, there appears to be general agreement that Judge DeVilbiss is a knowledgeable and fair judge and that he runs his courtroom well and in a competent manner. From the responses, it appears that he is especially caring and competent in juvenile cases and in criminal cases. One comment: “He is extremely fair to criminal defendants, especially in imposing sentence, and makes a special effort for those who do not understand English well or appear pro se…” (without an attorney). There is no criticism from attorneys or from law enforcement personnel that Judge DeVilbiss is too lenient in sentencing.

Another comment: “I think that this judge is particularly capable in the criminal sentencing process…”

Another comment: “Our firm has had pending motions ready for action sitting for 18 months - 2 years awaiting action. No amount of prodding seems to expedite rulings…”

The comments of this Judicial Performance Commission from six years ago, in 1990, were similar.  In that recommendation it was stated: “Overall, the only pervasive criticism of DeVilbiss came in the area of delay in the handling of civil cases, particularly with regard to decisions concerning pretrial motions. On the other hand, many saw DeVilbiss’ handling of juvenile and child custody cases as his strongest point.”

In conference with the Commission, Judge DeVilbiss acknowledged his failure to render prompt decisions in civil cases and expressed his determination to clear up the backlog by fall. The Commission is aware of Judge DeVilbiss’ ability in the past to overcome diversity.

The Ninth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance is evenly divided and therefore cannot make no recommendation on the retention of Judge DeVilbiss.