Gavel Grab

2/1/08 – Bush Want More from Congress, NYTimes Wants Return of Civil Rights, MN May See Selection Reform, NJ SC Justice Sued Over HS Football Dispute, WV Debates Non-Partisan vs. Public Funding

Bush Prods Congress on Eavesdropping Law – The Associated Press
President Bush pressured Congress to pass a permanent law allowing the Administration to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists after he signed Congress’s 15 day extension bill.

Restoring Civil Rights – The New York Times Editorial Board
The New York Times endorses the passage of Senator Kennedy’s legislation the restores civil liberties that have been stripped through a series of recent Supreme Court decisions.

Group pushes new way to choose judges – The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
A new judicial selection reform plan in Minnesota, endorsed by Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and former MN Governor Al Quie, would allow the Governor to appoint justices to the bench and would allow voters to weigh in on the decision through retention elections.

NJ Supreme Court justice Roberto Rivera-Soto sued – The Star-Ledger
A former star high school football player sued state Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, claiming the justice used his power and status against him because of a running dispute on the football team with Rivera-Soto’s son.

Kessler: Public Funds Vital For Judicial Races – The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register – WV
State Sen. Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) has suggested that instead of moving forward to the proposed legislation removing party affiliation from judicial elections, the legislature should move to publicly fund judicial elections. The discussion was initiated in response to recent ethics concerns involving Justice Maynard and Massey Energy.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/7/08 – The Good, Bad and Ugly of Judicial Elections, Judges Can Rule on the 1st Amdt. but Can They Use It?

Judicial accountability — Courting trouble – The Topeka Capital Journal
The Editorial Board examines the Kansas Judicial Review of Johnson County’s push for judicial elections. While the “of the people, by the people, for the people” sentiment resonates with some, is it worth the money, influence, campaigns, and retention votes that would accompany elections?

Panel says judges should think before speaking out – The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
After the Arkansas Bar Association made recommendations to change the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct relating to judges’ speaking out on social and political issues, Judge Wendell Griffin states: “Why would the profession that has sworn an oath to uphold the freedoms of our democracy advance codes that on their face raise First Amendment problems ?”

State Probes Probate Judge – The Hartford Courant
After Judge Phillip Zuckerman won his election in 2006, he proceeded to ask lawyers for donations to help pay off his debt (and was kind enough to leave a trail of quality evidence).

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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12/20/07 – PA Commission to Replace Mott; WH Lawyers Met w/ CIA About Tape Destruction; Las Vegas Called "Judicial Hellhole"

Democratic committee chair Gustin seeks judicial commission in Mott’s replacement – The Daily Review
Joan Gustin pushes for a “gubernatorial judicial commission” to select nominees for the vacancy created by Bradford County Judge John C. Mott’s retention loss in the fall election.

Clark County Debuts as a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ – KLAS News – Las Vegas
The American Tort Reform Association ranks the Clark County court system fifth worst in the nation, based attorney-judge relationships, judicial elections, low levels of recusals, and judicial misconduct.

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes – The New York Times
At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes. The tapes were destroyed despite a court order directing them to preserve all evidence.

Who should run justice courts? – The Salt Lake Tribune
The state’s Judicial Council, headed by Utah Supreme Court Justice Ronald Nehring, has proposed legislation to sever the perceived ties between judges and attorneys.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/13/07

UN rights expert ‘concerned’ about judicial safeguards at Guantanamo hearings – JURIST
In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, UN rights expert expresses concern over “lack of judicial guarantees and fair trial procedures”.

CIA Destroyed Tapes Despite Court Order – The Associated Press
Judges, lawyers and the Administration are figuring out what the legal ramifications of the destruction of videotape evidence, despite a federal court order, will be.

Clark County deserves better than this judge – The Yakima Herald Republic – Yakima, WA
The Editorial Board calls for the Washington State Supreme Court to go beyond censuring Clark County Superior Court Judge John P. Wulle for his inappropriate behavior at a conference.

State Partial news blackout a part of Mott campaign – The Daily Review – Towanda, PA
The Editorial Board examines Judge John Mott’s unsuccessful retention campaign and the media opposition he faced.

Wis. Court Fails to Decide Case – The Associated Press
After Justice Annette Ziegle recused herself to avoid a conflict of interest in a case involving one of her campaign contributors, the Supreme Court had a tie vote and sent the case to the lower court to be decided.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/6/07

Supreme Court Reconsiders Pivotal Louisiana Case on Racial Selection of Juries – The New York Times
The United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Snyder v. Louisiana, Allen Snyder’s final appeal for his claim that the jury selection in his death penalty trial was racially biased.

Justices Leery of Bush’s Guantanamo Stance – The Wall Street Journal
The United States Supreme Court hears Boumediene v. Bush. As with many recent cases, Justice Kennedy may hold the deciding vote.

Gitmo Goes to Court: The judiciary has no business managing how we fight wars abroad – The Wall Street Journal Editorial
In this article, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who both served in the DOJ under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., argue that if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to grant Guantanamo Bay detainees habeas rights, they would be expanding judicial power to an unprecedented level and dismissing the CSRT process as an acceptable habeas substitute.

State Supreme Court: A plus for fairness – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board
Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire recently appointed Justice Debra Stephens, a judge representing Eastern Washington, to the State Supreme Court.

Elections still better way to choose judges – The Decatur Daily
This editorial argues that while judicial elections have their setbacks, ultimately campaign contribution transparency is a better solution and keeps the judges accountable to the voters.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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