September 23, 2013

In Minnesota: "Judges would still stand for re-election, but would face no challengers."

"Instead, voters would opt to keep judges or toss them out. If an incumbent lost, a nonpartisan review committee would assemble a new pool of potential replacements and the governor would select a new one."

That's the proposal. Before you click through to the article, think about whether this would serve the agenda of liberals or conservatives.


traditionalguy said...

Liberals of course since if they have the Governor's office they have it all. Throw out an activist and get an activist replacement.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Conservatives-- it's actually very hard NOT to retain a judge.... most people will only vote to kick one out if they personally know of bad behavior.

So a conservative judge doing his thing is unlikely to lose his position. Meanwhile, a liberal activitst judge makes big news and the grassroots organize.

You have to make it into the papers for anyone to bother voting you out.
And in the current system, a lot of Dems vote straight ticket.

Phaedrus said...

Kansas has this and I have never heard of a judge being voted out. Not even those who passed down unbelievable decisions such as probation for convicted child molesters. The lawyers especially trial lawyers throw themselves into defense of judges if there is a risk of them being voted out. Some people feel like they have to check at least one box for every position on the ballot and vote to check Yes on retaining a judge automatically.

Pettifogger said...

Not universally, but by a preponderance, I would expect "non-partisan" to mean liberal.

MadisonMan said...

Is there such a thing as a Nonpartisan Review Committee? I'm guessing it would be appointed by (wait for it) politicians with their own agenda/axe to grind.

I do like the idea of a yes/no vote for a judge. But if the result is No, the judge is out, and a new election determines a new judge, and the old judge cannot run.

Is this really a problem, though, or just a solution in search of a problem? Are there Judges in Minnesota who have served long past their expiration date? Or is this just legislators *jealous* because their own re-elections are so simple?

Interesting case cited from WV, where the Coal Co bough a judge who then threw out a case against the Coal Company. The article doesn't say what became of it, though. (google) The Coal-Company-favoring ruling was overturned by the US Supreme Court. (Caperton vs. Massey). But I'm not sure what happened after that (IANAL).

Rick Caird said...

It serves the interests of the incumbents of whichever philosophy. Most people do not associate any particular decision or group of decisions with an individual judge. It would not surprise me if Rose Byrd were the last State Supreme Court Justice removed because she was the last one who seemed to inspire a mass revolt.

RecChief said...

In MInnesota? Liberals of course.

lgv said...

It would serve the party who controls the non-partisan panel. If equal, then the party of the governor. It's really not that complicated.

If enacted, he non-partisan panel will not be non-partisan and it will make no difference as no one will ever get voted out, which is pretty much the status quo.

BAS said...

It would benefit the establishment, whatever "it" is. Since the pool of judges would be chosen by this "nonpartisan" committee. It removes choice from people.
Also knowing who will win if the incumbent loses allows for a better decision.
This removes a level of control from the public and I'm against that.

David said...

It would not serve the interests of voters, that's for sure.

A sham.

David said...

It would not serve the interests of voters, that's for sure.

A sham.

Crunchy Frog said...

This is how it is done in California, at least on the Supreme Court level. CA Supes must stand for retention elections every 10 years. This is how Rose Bird and her lackeys finally got kicked out.

Capitol Report New Mexico said...

In New Mexico we have the retention system from the supreme court down to the local metro court. As a practical matter it means judges are retained even if they are incompetent because, politically, voters will respond to a specific alternative—a person with ideas—far more readily than voting, "Not this guy.". It also means that judges are nearly all judges are Democrats, a function of the NM Republicans consistent failure to find and support down ballot candidates. Whether a retention race or one between two people, resources (i.e. money) must be invested to make people aware of the alternative to the status quo.

Mr. D said...

I live in Minnesota. The judiciary is officially nonpartisan, but that's a fiction since the governor gets to appoint the judges. They would prefer not face the electorate, which is hardly surprising.

Thorley Winston said...

I live in Minnesota and I can guess how the “non-partisan” committee would probably work in practice. In 2000, the Republican Senator (Rod Grams) put out a lit piece against his Democratic challenger (Mark Dayton, our current governor) that included an excerpt from an article from the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press was upset that Grams didn’t ask for their permission first and brought a complaint before a “non-partisan” (or rather a “tri-partisan” since we technically have three major parties) committee that consisted of one Democrat, a member of the Independence Party who had lost to Rod Grams in the 1994 general election, and the Republican who lost to Rod Grams in the 1994 primary.

In Minnesota, that’s what passes for a fair and impartial panel.

30yearProf said...

My comment in the Strib.

The Elitists who think they run the State don't trust the people. What they don't want is free elections. That's why the current elections are biased, in a way no others are, by printing "Incumbent" next to the judges name. That's a very heavy "State thumb" on the scales of Justice.

All the quality control arguments can be accomplished through the Supreme Court's supervisory powers. Currently, that doesn't work very well because one Elitist is reluctant to punish another. Just let them retire (and pay them for life). B..U..T.. the power is there if the Supreme Court has the gumption to exercise it. It the Court won't, neither will a review panel. Nope, everyone will scratch everyone else's back.

The only change will be that Minnesotans lose the RIGHT to vote for Judges (already limited) and the Judiciary becomes more aristocratic, less transparent, and more unaccountable. Appointment as a Minnesota judge will turn into a lifetime tenure (except for major felonies).

Do you really want to give up your vote for THAT??? I say "No!".

cubanbob said...

Without reading the article or comments here it's a no brainer: liberals. Who does the candidate selection? Liberals. Plus few people vote in these races as the public rarely ever gets to know anything about the judges.

Glenn Howes said...

Forgive me if I'm a bit foggy on the details, but I seem to recall that when Missouri had a Republican governor, the 'non-partisan' state bar based committee which provided him with his nominees gave him such a list of Democratic hacks and dimwits that he declined to choose and let whomever the committee wanted join the Supreme Court of MO.

If I'm getting the state wrong, forgive me.

Rich Rostrom said...

Liberals and lawyer insiders would control that "non-partisan committee", as they do in every state which follows the similar Missouri Plan.

As for judicial retention votes, they're a joke. We have them in Illinois. It's been decades since a Cook County judge failed retention.

Last year, Judge Cynthia Brim went berserk when asked to show ID at the courts building, and assaulted a sheriff's deputy. She pled not guilty by reason of insanity (claiming that she forgot to take her anti-psychotic meds, something that has happened several times before).

All the newspapers and bar associations recommended No votes on her. She was retained with 63.5%.

OK, she's a black Democrat, and the party endorsed her, so she got 80%+ in a lot of inner-city wards.

But she got at least 39% in every ward and township in the entire county. In Barrington, the richest and most Republican township, she got 56%. (Obama only got 36% there.)

My ward is Democrat (Obama 88%), but somewhat independent. The Democrat alderman and committee bucked the party and recommended No on their leaflets and palm cards. Brim still got 53%.

Most voters know nothing about the retention ballot, which is extremely long. Of those who fill out the retention section, many seem to think it is their civic duty to vote Yes on all judges. Or they blindly follow the party recommendation, which is always Yes.

Non-retention should be an option, in the form of recall, but relying on it to police the bench is folly.