Aug 30 2011
The Rome News-Tribune reports that two members of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Judges Stephen Louis A. Dillard and Judge Keith R. Blackwell, will be running for election in 2012. Both judges were appointed by former Governor Sonny Perdue last November. However, the judges clarify that the political party of their appointing governor does not define them as judges. Dillard says, ““The reality is we’re not Republican judges. We’re not Democratic judges. We’re just judges.” Blackwell agrees that partisan affiliations should not, and do not, affect how a judge decides a case. “I can tell you uniformly on our court I am confident that there is not one of the 12 judges who would look at a case and ask how would the Democrats like this case to come out or how would the Republicans like this case to come out in deciding the case,” says Blackwell.
Unlike Pennsylvania, which selects all judges through partisan elections, Georgia selects its judges through nonpartisan elections. While taking the party label off the judicial ballot might help, candidates may still be labeled as “Republican” or “Democrat” by the public, because the public is accustomed to an election system based on party politics. Elections are simply not the appropriate vehicle for judicial selection if we want judges chosen based on ability and not on other factors that have no bearing on how a judge will do his/her job, factors like party affiliation, county of residence, and ballot position. As Dillard says, “Ultimately as a judge your job is a very simple one, it’s not always easy, but it’s to interpret the law. That’s your role.”Tags: Georgia, Judge Keith Blackwell, Judge Stephen Dillard, judicial elections, nonpartisan, party labels, politics, Sonny Perdue