Gavel Grab

Six-Figure Sum to Oust Local Judge: Who’s the Real Source?

Money in handWhen six-figure sums suddenly flow from Washington, D.C. into a once-obscure lower-court judicial race, journalists and others typically begin hunting for the source.

That’s exactly what a Talking Points Memo blog post undertakes regarding $200,000 pumped into a Cole County, Missouri Circuit Court contest by the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national partisan organization (see Gavel Grab) backing a Republican candidate seeking to defeat a Democratic incumbent. The TPM post also quotes Justice at Stake about the unusual race. Read more

No comments

Controversy Over D.C. Group Targeting Local Missouri Judge

The Republican State Leadership Committee’s channeling $200,000 into Missouri in support of a judicial candidate in Cole County (see Gavel Grab) is stoking controversy.

RSLC_logo_NO_INITIALS“I pretty clearly think it’s an attempt to intimidate the judges in the county courthouse,” said Chuck Hatfield, an area lawyer and a Democrat, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The message that’s coming through is, if you’ve ruled the way you think you ought to rule and it is contrary to some interest groups, they’re going to take you out.”

Cole County Circuit Court has “outsized influence” because it is home for Jefferson City, the state capital, the article notes. The court has jurisdiction over lawsuits challenging the constitutional of state statutes or the wording of ballot measures. The RSLC’s funds have gone  to support Republican Brian Stumpe, a prosecutor who is challenging incumbent Judge Pat Joyce, a Democrat. Read more

No comments

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

No comments

In Missouri Locality, a Judicial Election Based on … Merit?

justice-scalesHigh praise for a contested judicial election where the candidates shun negative attacks and instead emphasize their qualifications?

It’s rare, but Gavel Grab has located such a contest for a local judgeship in Boone County, Missouri, where former Missouri Bar president Skip Walther writes that “each candidate’s judicial campaign speaks to their potential quality as a judge, and based solely on that metric, each of the candidates is qualified.”

Walther wrote a piece for the Columbia Tribune that extols the conduct of the local judicial race while pointing out that in his view, it’s pretty exceptional:

“Make no mistake: Our local judicial campaigns are not ordinary. With almost $30 million in TV spending on judicial campaigns in 2012 alone, negative advertising is becoming commonplace. Fortunately, Missouri appellate judges and large metropolitan trial judges are appointed rather than elected, so we are spared the nastiness on a statewide level that is so prevalent in states such as Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Alabama and West Virginia.” Read more

No comments

Federal Gun Law Nullification Effort Dies in Missouri Legislature

In the waning moments of Missouri’s legislative session, minority Democrats filibustered a bill to nullify some federal gun laws, and the measure died.

Majority Republicans were split earlier about how aggressively the legislation should punish officials who enforced certain federal gun laws that were judged to have infringed on Missourians’ Second Amendment rights, the Associated Press reported. The House put its final approval on a compromise and sent it to the Senate with only 30 minutes in the session remaining.

Each chamber had passed earlier a version that would have allowed lawsuits against officials who enforce gun laws that are found to infringe upon Missourians’ Second Amendment rights. Justice at Stake said, “Surely state legislators have better things to do than pursue fruitless efforts to punish judges for enforcing the law of the land” (see Gavel Grab).


No comments

Missouri Bill to Nullify Federal Gun Laws May Die

The Missouri House voted 109-42 on Tuesday to block enforcement of some federal gun laws. But time is running out, and a disagreement among Republicans over how to punish officials who enforce those laws could doom the legislation, the Kansas City Star reported.

The House-passed measure would allow lawsuits against officials who enforce gun laws that are found to infringe upon Missourians’ Second Amendment rights, and the measure’s Senate sponsor said he did not think the House bill goes far enough. The Senate will not likely consider the version, said Sen. Brian Nieves. Read more

No comments

Missouri Senate OK’s Bill to Nullify Federal Gun Laws

gun-battle_genericThe Missouri Senate voted 23-8 on Thursday to block enforcement of some federal gun laws. The Senate’s version would allow citizens to sue public officials over their enforcing gun regulations, as does a House-passed version.

The Senate version is not identical to the House-passed version, however, in that it adds a provision to ban for life from employment by local or state law enforcement an individual who enforces a gun law that is unconstitutional, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

When the House passed its version of the nullification law, Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said (see Gavel Grab), “Surely state legislators have better things to do than pursue fruitless efforts to punish judges for enforcing the law of the land.” Read more

No comments

JAS Criticizes Missouri Bill to Nullify U.S. Gun Laws

BULLETIN: “Surely state legislators have better things to do than pursue fruitless efforts to punish judges for enforcing the law of the land,” Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said on Thursday about a Missouri nullification bill. “Nullification has been rejected throughout American history as an attack on democracy and the rule of law.  Rather than usurping the Constitution, state lawmakers who want to change federal gun laws should do what every other citizen has to: write their member of Congress.”

A Missouri Senate committee has approved a House-passed bill that would nullify federal restrictions on gun ownership in Missouri.

Missouri-gun-bill-aims-to-nullify-US-gun-laws-in-the-stateThe bill approved by the Senate General Laws Committee deems void “federal statutes, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, or other actions which restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms,” reported Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts.

The legislation specifically bars Missouri judges from giving legal recognition to laws or federal court orders restricting gun ownership in Missouri, saying, “It shall be the duty of the courts…of this state to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms within the borders of this state and to protect these rights from the infringements defined in section 1.322.” Read more

No comments

‘Original Intent’ Bill Would Apply to Missouri Judges

We the PeopleA committee of Missouri’s state Senate has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that if approved by voters, among other things, would dictate that the state judiciary interpret the U.S. Constitution by the intent of its signers.

The measure requires that the branches of Missouri government “Interpret the Constitution of the United States of America based on its language and the intent of the signers of the Constitution at the time of its passage.”

The measure’s advance was reported by Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts, with this headline: “Missouri: bill to compel state judges use original intent interpretation of federal constitution, retroactively nullify federal laws & court decisions out of Senate committee.” Read more

No comments

Poll: Missouri Voters Against Dumping Merit Selection

Two similar, recently approved petitions for ballot initiatives to revamp Missouri’s nationally recognized merit system for selecting judges pose a “serious threat,” according to Skip Walther, treasurer of Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts. While the Secretary of State approved the petitions for circulation, each would require more than 150,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in 2014.

“We’re taking this threat to the merit selection of judges very seriously,” Walther told the St. Louis Beacon. Its article was headlined, “New initiative petition proposals would require Supreme Court judges to run for office.” The proposals seek to replace the “Missouri Plan” of merit selection with popular election of judges, and they would expand the size of the state Supreme Court from seven to nine justices.

A recent News Tribune article said a poll commissioned by MFIC found that 58 percent of surveyed Missouri voters said they plan to vote against the proposal if it appears on the ballot, and 18 percent said they plan to vote yes. Eighty-five percent of voters, according to the 20/20 Insight poll, said they oppose allowing candidates for the bench to solicit campaign contributions.

Read more

No comments

Next Page »