Apr 21 2009
The Bucks County Courier Times offers this update on our earlier post about the Bucks County Democratic and Republican parties joining together to endorse a slate of three candidates for the local courts. Now, a bipartisan group of lawyers in the county has organized to support the election of that slate. Three candidates also running for the bench who are not part of the slate had strong responses to the news:
[Dave] Zellis, the most vocal opponent of the endorsements, said the public should be wary of judges who take cash from the people who could soon be standing before them in court.
“Judicial candidates should not ask for or accept money or endorsements from lawyers who will appear before them in court because it is simply wrong,” Zellis said. “Judges must be independent and not beholden to lawyers or law firms.”
[Lawrence] Otter agreed.
“I am totally underwhelmed that a new insider group of lawyers is endorsing anyone. This is just another special interest power play to eliminate competition and demean democracy,” he said.
[Michael] Rubin said he also opposes the committee, saying he isn’t accepting campaign money from anyone, especially lawyers.
In response, Christopher Brill, Bucks County Bar Association President and spokesperson for the new bipartisan committee had this to say:
“In a perfect world, there would be no need for judicial candidates to raise money for their campaigns because they would be appointed by way of an unimpeachable merit selection process. In the world we actually live in, judges are elected, and in order to be elected, they must raise money for campaign expenses,” Brill said. ” Since the work of lawyers is most keenly impacted by the quality of the judges, lawyers are naturally more interested in who these judges will be, and likewise, the source of funds for the judicial candidates.”
When you cut through the personal interests involved here, it seems everyone basically agrees on one thing: electing judges in expensive campaigns that require candidates to raise money from lawyers and firms who will later appear before them makes absolutely no sense. We agree with that, and hope we can count on their support for judicial selection reform.Tags: Bucks County Courier Times, Christopher Brill, Dave Zellis, judicial elections, Lawrence Otter, Merit Selection, Michael Rubin