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Archive for the 'Merit Selection' Category

Editorial: Economic Reasons for Alabama to Switch to Merit

2003_AL_ProofAn economic analysis supportive of replacing partisan judicial elections with a merit selection system ought to “resonate” with Republican supermajorities in the Alabama legislature, a Montgomery Advertiser editorial says.

The analysis of John A. Dove of Troy University in Alabama was the subject of a recent Gavel Grab post. Dove asserts that Alabama’s legal system is overrun by politics, and it would help boost the economy and job creation to reduce politics in the courtroom by replacing partisan judicial elections with merit selection.

The editorial notes that that it is far from that newspaper’s first to call for consideration of merit selection, but philosophical arguments have not won over legislators. Perhaps an economic argument will have greater influence, it says: Read more

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Commentary: Boost Alabama Economy by Adopting Merit Selection

Alabama’s legal system is overrun by politics, and it would  help boost the economy and job creation to reduce politics in the courtroom by replacing partisan judicial elections with merit selection of judges, an assistant economics professor says.

John A. Dove of Troy University in Troy, Alabama outlines his ideas in a new study and in a Montgomery Advertiser op-ed. He writes, “Replacing partisan election of judges with merit selection will promote a predictable, fair legal system. This less biased legal environment will have a tremendous impact on supporting business growth, progress and development, translating into jobs, opportunity and prosperity for more Alabamians.” Read more

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Editorials: Weigh Appointive Systems for Picking Judges

Editorials are calling for consideration of changing the way judges are selected in one state where elections were held recently and another where a scandal has resulted in a new high court vacancy.

In Ohio, a Canton Repository editorial asked, “Is it time to change way judges are selected?” It also asserted, “Chief justice thinks so, but Ohioans need to be brought into the conversation.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, remarking on a high number of uncontested judicial elections in the state this year, recently said Ohio ought to consider appointing judges rather than electing them (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Ohio Chief Justice: Consider Appointing, Not Electing, Judges

Chief Justice O'Connor

Chief Justice O’Connor

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, remarking on a high number of uncontested judicial elections in the state this year, says Ohio ought to consider appointing judges rather than electing them.

Justice O’Connor has discussed reform in the past (see Gavel Grab) although her proposals have not resulted in action by the legislature. She recently expressed her concerns in an interview with the Associated Press, which summed up her thinking this way:

“The goal is to take politics out of judicial campaigns, O’Connor said. She favors a system where the governor would appoint judges based on recommendations from a screening committee, with voters casting ballots in retention elections two years later to decide whether the judges should keep their jobs.

“That plan would ‘still allow the voters to weigh in, but you would be judging the candidate on their record, what have they done for the two years during the interim,’ O’Connor said. ‘That preserves the best of both worlds.'”

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Weigh Merit Selection of Local Judges in Cole County: Editorial

Cash-gavel-soldAs a $200,000 injection of outside money from a national group (see Gavel Grab) changes the focus of a Cole County, Missouri election for Circuit Court, a St. Louis Post editorial calls for changing the way judges are chosen there.

Cole County voters would do well to follow the model of Greene County voters, who decided in 2008 to halt electing local judges and instead adopt the merit-based selection system that is used to choose local judges in St. Louis and Kansas City, and all state appellate judges, the editorial says.

“The administration of justice is too important to have questions about whether one donor, or a group of donors, can buy their own judicial outcomes by using their cash to tilt an election,” the editorial asserts. Read more

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Crossfire in Commentaries Over Alaska Judicial Council

Alaska-quarterFrom an op-ed critical of the Alaska Judicial Council and a rebuttal by a council defender, you can learn about controversy over a nonpartisan entity established at Alaska’s statehood to evaluate judicial candidates within a merit-based selection system.

John Harmon, an Anchorage educator and a former Fortune 500 corporate attorney, wrote recently in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, “Alaska promotes its judicial system as ‘merit’ based, but the actions seen from the Council appear to be those of partisan politics.”

This week Barbara Hood, a retired attorney and a founding board member of Justice Not Politics Alaska, wrote a Valley Frontiersman reply asserting that the council is doing its job well. “In recent years, members of Alaska’s judiciary have come under attack by political groups with agendas,” she said. “Now the same special interest groups seek to reshape our justice system by targeting the council itself.” Read more

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Editorial: Weigh Reform of 'Ugly' WI Supreme Court Elections

630px-Seal_of_WisconsinOne of the latest local editorial boards to declare that there’s something hugely wrong with judicial elections works at the Beloit Daily News in Wisconsin.

When it published an editorial about reforms for the public to consider, the editorial board spotlighted merit selection of judges. Here is what the editorial said, under the headline “Do the people want to take charge?”

“APPOINT THE STATE’S top judges, identified and selected by a merit commission, rather than electing them. The ugly Wisconsin Supreme Court elections — dominated by partisan interests and tainted by big money — have become an embarrassment, and worse. Decisions of law are colored by partisan politics, over time eroding the people’s trust in the judicial branch. Without a doubt, people want the courts to be a fair referee, not just another partisan branch of government.” Read more

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On 40th Anniversary, a Salute to Merit Selection in Arizona

1280px-Flag_of_Arizona.svgArizona marks the 40th anniversary this year of its adoption of merit selection for choosing appellate judges and Superior Court judges in its largest counties. In an Arizona Republic op-ed, Chief Justice Scott Bales says the system has “allowed Arizona’s judiciary to earn a national reputation for fairness, efficiency and innovation.”

The Chief Justice’s op-ed is largely explanatory about how merit selection works to seat well-qualified judges, and about the Judicial Performance Review system, established by voters in 1992, to which all merit-selected judges are subject. Justice Bales also writes of  high regard nationally and in the state for Arizona’s system: Read more

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New Report Examines Judicial Nominating Commissions in U.S.

logo_squareThe Denver-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) and its Quality Judges Initiative have released a new report on the judicial nominating commissions used to select supreme court justices in 30 states.

The report is entitled Choosing Judges: Judicial Nominating Commissions and the Selection of Supreme Court Justices. The report states in its conclusion: Read more

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In Arkansas, a Call to Weigh Shift to Merit Selection

justice-scalesIs a new debate ahead in Arkansas over the best way to select impartial judges?

The issue has been percolating lately (see Gavel Grab), and now Roy Ockert, editor emeritus of The Jonesboro Sun, has written a op-ed urging consideration of a shift from nonpartisan elections to the “Missouri Plan” of merit selection.

In Arkansas, Ockert writes, “we the people are still electing our judges, but the process is becoming corrupted.” He says the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the door for special interest groups to raise large sums and then target and sometimes smear judicial candidates, who are limited by ethics restrictions in their ability to respond. Read more

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