Using AI-Powered Data to Vote for a Judge

November 1, 2018,

An appellate court justice must be confirmed by voters at the general election in California. Unlike other types of candidates, data-driven insights for judges are rare. In this article, I’ve used Gavelytics to find insights on a judge who is up for election in Los Angeles.

Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer is a candidate for Justice in District 2, Division 7. Judge John L. Segal is her opponent. She was appointed to LA Superior Court by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005.

 

Environmental Activist

Prior to being appointed, she was a senior attorney and director for Southern California Air Quality Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a lawyer, she had a reputation for being dedicated to environmental issues. In an LA Times article, she explained her motivation in accepting her appointment:

“I love fighting for causes I believe in, but not everyone can have an attorney to fight for them… I thought that if I could bring fairness and justice into the courtroom, I could make a difference one case at a time.” (LA Times)

Using Gavelytics, I found that Judge Feuer has heard a relatively few environmental cases out of over a couple thousand cases she’s heard as a judge.

 

Types of Cases She’s Heard

Judge Feuer was re-elected in 2014. Judge Feuer has heard more employment, real property, and business / civil / business torts cases after being re-elected.

Prior to 2014, her caseload was broken down as follows:

 

Below is her caseload breakdown since 2014:

Landlord-Tenant Cases

Landlord-tenant issues are important in Los Angeles. With its ever-growing population, LA’s rent-control laws concern many voters. On one hand, tenants want to pay a reasonable amount in areas where they have lived in for a long time. On the other hand, landlords want rent prices to keep up with rising costs for repairs and taxes.

A voter may want to find out whether Judge Feuer favors landlords or tenants. To find potential biases, I compared Judge Feuer’s motion grant rates for defendants with those of the rest of the county, and of her opponent. I looked at cases for Unlawful Detainer and Wrongful Eviction.

Unlawful Detainer cases are typically brought by landlords, who seek to gain the court’s judgment against a tenant occupying their rental property.

In Unlawful Detainer cases, I found that Judge Feuer granted motions filed by tenant-defendants 75% of the time, compared to the county-wide average of about 50%, and 55% for her opponent Judge Segal.

Looking into Wrongful Eviction cases where plaintiff-tenants sue landlord-defendants, Judge Feuer grants landlord-defendants’ motions about 63% of the time, which is similar to the county-wide average of 60%, and higher than Judge Segal’s 47%.  

Conclusions

Judge Feuer has ruled on a more diverse range of cases after being re-elected in 2014. This might help address voters’ concern that she has less experience than Judge Segal. Based on her data, she might be slightly more receptive to tenants in Unlawful Detainer situations than the rest of the judges in LA. She doesn’t display any notable biases in Wrongful Eviction cases, however.

Gavelytics’ database is designed to generate accurate insights across several judges and counties for practicing litigators. We also provide customized insights like this article. To find out more, please schedule a demo.

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