As 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 moreNo comments
And more than two out of three voters in Cole County are concerned that politically charged judicial elections will pressure judges to make decisions based on public opinion, rather than the facts and the law, JAS said in disclosing the results of a poll it commissioned of 579 voters.
According to recent news reports, the Republican State Leadership Committee has injected $200,000 into the race. Cole County Circuit Court is influential throughout the state, having jurisdiction over lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of state statutes or the wording of ballot measures. Cole County is the seat of the state capitol.
“Not surprisingly, Cole County voters grow very suspicious when out of state money is injected into judicial elections,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake in a statement. Read moreNo comments
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 moreNo comments
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.
“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 moreNo comments
Some 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 moreNo comments
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
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).
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 moreNo comments
The 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 moreNo comments
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.
The 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 moreNo comments