Archive for January, 2011

Jan 31 2011

Fight Resumes Over Tennessee Judicial Selection

The perennial fight over selection of appellate judges in Tennessee is back on, according to an opinion piece published in The Tennessean on 1/30. In “Judge-selection system in state instills trust,” Dwight Lewis explains how the state’s Merit Selection system works, and notes support for the plan from former Tennessee Supreme Court justice, and newly inaugurated […]

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Jan 28 2011

Politics On the Docket in Illinois

The Supreme Court of Illinois recently ruled that former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel satisfied the somewhat unclear residency requirements for inclusion on the ballot in the race for Mayor of Chicago. In covering the court’s deliberations on the question, the Chicago Tribune points out the inherent contradiction of an impartial judiciary that’s […]

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Jan 27 2011

A Move Towards More Merit Selection Judges in Indiana

The Northwest Indiana Times reports that an Indiana state Senate committee approved a plan switching the Lake County Superior Court’s current system of judicial selection, in which most judges are appointed but four are elected, to a complete merit selection system. The four elected positions were formerly part of Indiana’s small claims court, which was […]

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Jan 25 2011

Judicial Politics on The National Stage

One reason why we advocate for a change in the way Pennsylvania selects its appellate court judges is to relieve some of the political pressure on judges and justices. The duties of judges distinguish them from officials in executive or legislative positions. Politicians are supposed to act on behalf of their constituents, and are expected to […]

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Jan 24 2011

Changes in Harrisburg Bring Optimism for Merit Selection

Bobby Kerlik at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that merit selection supporters are hopeful that the political changes in Harrisburg will help advance the cause of reform. Shira Goodman, deputy director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, believes that the Legislature is ready to discuss court reform. She also thinks that this is a move the public […]

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Jan 20 2011

Merit Selection Nominating Commission Survives Iowa Challenge

The Des Moines Register reports that a federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit challenging the presence of lawyers elected by lawyers on Iowa’s nominating commission. The lawsuit, brought by Indiana based lawyer James Bopp, contended that these seven lawyer members should be excluded from the nomination process. The suit argued that the procedure violated the […]

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Jan 19 2011

Campaign Money Taints the Judicial Process

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a doctor believes the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal in a malpractice case against him due to political considerations related to campaign contributions. Dr. John Cox, a neuro-radiologist, was sued for allegedly missing a stroke diagnosis. The original suit was brought against Cox and other doctors at […]

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Jan 18 2011

Still Waiting For Change

Published by under Merit Selection,Opinion

Over at What About Clients?, Holden Oliver revisits the argument that partisan election of judges creates an atmosphere in which every decision is open to the inference of bias: Judges should not have “constituents”–i.e. law firms, and their clients, who make campaign contributions. Right now, in most American states, they do. And there is no […]

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Jan 14 2011

A Different Kind of Money Problem in Tennessee

Something interesting is happening in Tennessee – where the Merit Selection system for choosing judges is again under fire.  The Times Free Press reports (hat tip to American Courthouse) that two sitting Supreme Court justices contributed to the Senate campaign of the opponent of a state representative who was vocal about wanting to change the […]

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Jan 13 2011

Where's The Transparency, Exactly?

Opponents of Merit Selection of appellate judges often argue that the hybrid appointment system – in which a nominating commission recommends a slate of candidates for open seats on the bench – lacks transparency. Merit Selection, critics claim, can never be as open and transparent as choosing judges by popular election. But we’re assuming that […]

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