Mitch Pearlstein and Dane Smith: Instead of judicial races, retention elections

  • Article by: MITCH PEARLSTEIN and DANE SMITH
  • Updated: March 6, 2010 - 8:13 PM

Money and politics taint judicial credibility -- but there's a way to improve judicial elections.

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RexNewmanMar. 6, 10 9:36 PM

I agree in general, but not with the specifics. Strike this nonsense of an impartial or non-partisan commission, no such thing. And keep the terms at 6 years, not 8 as proposed. Just list them when their term is up, straight up or down vote.

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stella15Mar. 7, 10 9:06 AM

Impartial commission makes sense. Reality is most people don't pay attention to the work judges do, especially at the district level. Point of the commission is to review the backgrounds, work, and needs of the bench. Unless you work in the system, you usually are not familiar with the over all work. Just look at how many people don't fill out the judicial portion of ballots. The review portion could include feedback from a number of sources, including those who have appeared before the judge. The point is to provide feedback, but not be punitive just because somebody does not like the ruling. Smith and Perelstein come from different backgrounds, yet agree on the issue. That says plenty.

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manofreasonMar. 7, 10 1:13 PM

Just what we need: another set of lobbyists trying to squeeze the prickly and unpredictable voter out of the power game, leaving a wide open field for "insiders." This is a democracy: let the People decide. If the argument is that the people are too ill-informed to vote for judges, then it won't be long before the same argument is used to negate School Board elections, and then County Commissioners, and then State Representatives. As a matter of fact, we already have too many special interests muddying state and national politics, so the voters can't really be trusted to vote for Governor, Senator or President, either. Special interests, such as those represented by these authors, stick together in the hope of keeping voters in the dark, because once the voters engage the lobbyists' influence wanes. It's OUR country. It's OUR state. And it's OUR right to elect whomever we choose to elect for whatever reasons seem good to us.

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voxrationisMar. 7, 10 1:24 PM

If ordinary voters are good enough to sit in judgment in legal cases as jurors (and they are), then they most certainly are good enough to sit in judgment over judges as voters in full and fair elections. Why would we citizens deny ourselves this fundamental right and responsibility merely because some supposed "experts" think we aren't smart enough or courageous enough to do the right thing? It's insulting. To return the favor, I would propose a 12-year term limit for all State judges: we need judges less interested in entrenching themselves in power than in doing justice.

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verumvictumMar. 7, 10 1:57 PM

Patriots, awake! Let us ride like Paul Revere to spread the news that our freedom -- secured by our right to vote -- is under attack. Patrick Henry's famous rallying cry, after all, was not "Give me Bureaucratically-Certified-Impartial Decision-Makers or Give me Death," but rather was, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death." It doesn't take a Ph.D. to tell the difference.

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RossbergMar. 7, 10 2:07 PM

While it's desirable and important to have a judicial review board in place to investigate possible misconduct, review performance and oversee the general workings of our judicial system, there's no need or justification to allow them to participate in any appointments except for verifying the candidates' qualifications. The public is fully educated and otherwise capable of evaluating its public servants and can discern the difference between judicial and other elected positions. Although there is always the risk of a bad judge, or for that matter a bad Governor or Legislator being elected, ceding the authority to select them to the Governor is a horrific idea since it allows for no alternative avenue for potential judges to attain the position other than to curry favor with the Governor. While that may be suitable for Supreme Court appointments, it is far too much authority to turn over to any politician and runs the risk of making the entire judicial system beholden to the Governor. If anything needs to be improved, it should be in the area of giving better information to the public about the judges seeking or trying to retain their position.

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