First Judicial District - Jefferson County Court Judge
Honorable Thomas Vance
Retention Year: 2010
The First Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance recommends by a unanimous vote that Judge Thomas Vance BE RETAINED.
Judge Vance was appointed to the Jefferson County Court bench in July 2004. Prior to his appointment he served for 10 years as a County Court Magistrate. He was last reviewed by the Commission in 2006 and was retained by the voters. Judge Vance believes that he is a servant of the community. Over the last ten years, Judge Vance has coached a youth baseball team and regularly attended accountability meetings at a Jefferson County school during his off-duty hours.
The Commission reviewed written performance surveys of Judge Vance from attorneys and non-attorneys, including written verbatim comments attached to a performance survey completed by both attorneys and non-attorneys who had appeared in his courtroom. The Commission considered a written self-evaluation completed by Judge Vance, reviewed case rulings, conducted a personal interview and made unannounced courtroom observations. Judge Vance serves in the very challenging position of Presiding Judge of the Jefferson County Court, which puts him in the position of guiding and mentoring other judges on a regular basis. Judge Vance has enjoyed working with an exceptionally high number of new judges appointed to that court in the last year and did not find this responsibility a burden. Judge Vance spearheaded a very difficult project for the First Judicial District Courts over the past year and has received much praise for his leadership role.
Judge Vance works very hard to make people feel welcome in his court and makes sure that all understand the proceedings as he believes the county court is the “people’s court.” His written case rulings are very thorough, logical and easy to understand. He received very high ratings from both attorneys and non-attorneys in virtually every category, exceeding the average for all judges surveyed by a significant margin. Among attorneys, he was rated particularly high in “making sure all participants understand the proceedings” and “giving proceedings a sense of dignity.” Non-attorneys rated Judge Vance highly for speaking clearly and maintaining control over the proceedings. Among the attorney comments provided, the most frequently occurring comment concerned Judge Vance being a fair and impartial judge. The most frequent statement concerning his weaknesses from both attorneys and non-attorneys was that he had none.
Of the attorneys surveyed about retention, 98% recommended to retain. Of all non-attorneys surveyed, 97% recommended to retain. Judge Vance is committed to continuing his education and development as a judge. He exhibits an extremely positive attitude and humility about being a judge and the responsibility that comes with that position. It is for these reasons that the Commission unanimously recommends that Judge Vance BE RETAINED.