Jul 02 2012
As long as we elect judges, we will always have not only the infusion of vast sums of money, but also those who have gone to jail for violating their public trust posing as political operatives, profiting handsomely from the elective process, and being recognized at judicial swearing-ins.”
Yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer contained an op-ed written by long time PMC board member, Walter Phillips. “Time to change Pa.’s system of electing judges” discussed his observations of the judicial campaign process. Phillips argues that the public would be upset if it knew how the current judicial election system really works. First, many qualified lawyers are deterred from the judicial election process. Second, those “convicted of violating the public trust” play a very important role in determining our judges, including serving as ward leaders, campaign consultants, and essentially gatherers and distributors of money that gets out the vote.
To highlight the problems inherent in the electoral process, Phillips described two separate swearing in ceremonies, one for a Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court judge and one for a New York federal appellate court judge. The Pennsylvania judge was elected. His ceremony was filled with appreciation to those who helped him get elected, including some convicted felons. The New York judge was appointed. The New York ceremony focused on the important work of the court and its excellent reputation.
To continue this discussion, join Walter Phillips, today at 1:00 p.m. to discuss merit selection for judges in an online chatroom.