Jun 29 2010
Lynn Marks, PMC’s executive director, joined the moderator of Pennsylvania Newsmakers, Terry Madonna, on Sunday to discuss Merit Selection and the need for judicial selection reform in Pa.
Marks outlined some of the problems inherent in judicial elections:
Just think of yourself in court and then you start wondering, ‘Gee I wonder if Terry made a large contribution to one of those judges. And then I think, ‘I wonder if Terry’s lawyer made contribution, and then I think, ‘Gee I hope my lawyer made a huge contribution.’ I shouldn’t even be thinking that when I’m in a court of justice.
Merit Selection takes judges out of the fundrais
ing business. Judicial campaigns would not have to raise money from lawyers, law firms and organizations that later could appear before them in court.
Currently, this overlap between contributors to judicial campaigns and frequent participants in court is a major cause of concern for the public. It creates the perception that judges are beholden to special interests, which undermines the integrity of the courts.
Under Merit Selection, this fundraising cycle would be broken, and people would not have to question whether a judge might be influenced by a campaign contributor or supporter. As Marks explained,
“That’s all we’re asking for, is for. . . [litigants] to feel like they’re getting a fair shake in court.”