Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'State Court News' Category

‘No’ Vote Urged on Potential Court-Packing Amendment

Voting BoothsIn November, Florida voters will face a ballot item for a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow an outgoing governor to make certain prospective appointments of judges. A Tampa Tribune editorial is urging a “no” vote.

“A governor who just lost an election or is leaving because of term limits should not be allowed to pack the court with like-minded jurists on the way out the door,” the editorial explains. “That authority would be better vested with a newly elected governor who has just won a popular vote. Or perhaps a compromise of shared authority between the outgoing and incoming governors might be a fairer solution.” Read more

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Editorial Debate: Court ‘Out of Control,’ or ‘Pragmatic’?

washington_flag_mapA Washington Supreme Court ruling finding the legislature in contempt of court for failing to fully fund public education has sparked widely divergent views from editorial boards, the ABA Journal reports.

“The state Supreme Court is out of control,” declared a Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial. “[E]ven if the state had spare cash galore, it’s the Legislature — not the Supreme Court — that decides how it is spent. State government (like the federal government) is supposed to maintain a separation of power between the three branches of government — judicial, legislative and executive.”

A Seattle Times editorial said, “The Supreme Court’s pragmatic decision puts the state Legislature’s emphasis where it should be — on fixing the school-finance system.” The editorial credited the court for sparing any sanctions for now and giving legislators until the end of their 2015 session to resolve the issue.

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Now, Criticism of Tennessee High Court From a Leading Democrat



Once the Tennessee Supreme Court selected as attorney general the legal counsel to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, it drew sharp criticism from a leading Democrat. That represented a shift from before last month’s election, when a leading Republican criticized three incumbent justices seeking retention.

After the high court announced on Monday its selection of Herbert Slatery as attorney general (see Gavel Grab), Democratic House Leader Craig Fitzhugh said the court had “capitulated to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and the very special interest groups that tried to replace our Justices just one short month ago.” Ramsey, a Republican, was in the forefront of the unsuccessful ouster effort, and he disparaged the court’s earlier pick of Bob Cooper as attorney general. Read more

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Tennessee Supreme Court Picks Slatery as Attorney General



Herbert Slatery, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s legal counsel, was named state attorney general by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday.

Slatery was one of six finalists for the post. He will be Tennessee’s first Republican attorney general, according to the Associated Press.

Tennessee is the only state where the attorney general is named by the Supreme Court. With its action on Monday, the court denied a second eight-year term to incumbent Attorney General Bob Cooper, The Commercial Appeal noted; when three Democrat-appointed justices successfully ran for retention this year, their critics made Cooper’s record a centerpiece of the campaign to remove the justices. Read more

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Senate Ballot Dispute to Come Before Kansas High Court

0In a politically charged and nationally watched dispute, the Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in an effort to decide whether Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Chad Taylor may remove his name from the November ballot.

Taylor’s recent attempted withdrawal from the race with Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and Independent Greg Orman has widely been viewed as changing the dynamics of the contest, and possibly in favor of Orman. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, however, has contended that Taylor did not meet the legal requirements for withdrawal in the letter he submitted, because he did not declare he would be incapable of serving if voters elected him. Read more

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Arkansas Supreme Court Removes Judge Maggio From Bench

1372349497-maggioThe Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered immediate removal of Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio from the bench, rejecting a part of a settlement agreement by the judge that he be suspended with pay until the end of 2014.

“We deem any further suspension with pay to be inappropriate,” the high court said, according to the Associated Press. The judge was disciplined over his disclosing  confidential details about an adoption involving actress Charlize Theron and making off-color remarks in an online forum (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Judge Removed From Bench After Ordering Electro-Shock

The Maryland Court of Appeals has removed Charles County Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley from the bench. Maryland State Public Defender Paul DeWolfe earlier requested Judge Nalley’s removal, after the judge “ordered a defendant in his courtroom to be electro-shocked to shut him up,” according to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Maryland has a mandatory retirement age for judges, but the Court of Appeals can give them permission to keep hearing cases.” Judge Nalley had officially retired earlier. Read more

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Editorial: Court Revamp Ideas in Ferguson Could Help

1410295904000-CITY OF FERGUSONSome City Council proposals for revamping the “troubled” court system in Ferguson, Mo. are among valuable ideas in the wake of rioting after an unarmed black teen was shot by a white police officer, a New York Times editorial said.

The editorial, “A Step Toward Fairness in Ferguson,” said the city has had an exceptionally high rate of arrest warrants issued for motorists who are unable to pay fines and miss dates in court. Black motorists “are often targeted for petty offenses that generate fines” in St. Louis County, the editorial said, and the issuance of arrest warrants “makes them vulnerable to losing job opportunities and housing.” The editorial made the following recommendation: Read more

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Tennessee Court Hears From Candidates for Attorney General

bob-cooper-at-ag-interview-698x521The Tennessee Supreme Court held interviews in a public session on Monday with eight candidates seeking to serve as state attorney general, including the incumbent, Bob Cooper. The court was planning to move on Tuesday into private sessions after eliminating two of the eight candidates.

Tennessee’s court is the only one in the nation that chooses the state attorney general, and its selection of Cooper brought election-season criticism this summer of three justices who were seeking retention. Republicans lambasted Cooper’s decision not to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the federal Affordable Care Act. The trio of justices, who had been appointed by a Democrat, were ultimately retained.

“We were pushed by both sides in the Affordable Care Act litigation to join their position,” Cooper said on Monday, according to The Tennessean. “We said no to both sides. It would not have been a wise use of state money. … Its only purpose would have been to make a partisan political statement on a Read more

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Top Tennessee Judge: No Politics When Attorney General is Named

justice_leeSharon Lee, the new Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice, said there will be no partisan politics involved when the court selects a new state attorney general.

Before Justice Lee and two colleagues were retained in a hard-fought election last month, their foes made a central issue of the court’s earlier selection of Bob Cooper as attorney general, contending he was anti-business.

“I think the voters rejected partisan politics in our judiciary with the election,” Justice Lee said this week, according to a blog of the Knoxville News Sentinel. ”And they certainly will not have any place in the selection of the attorney general, or how we do the rest of our jobs.” The court will conduct public interviews of eight candidates for attorney general next week. Read more

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