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Old Nov 3rd 2017, 09:40 AM
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dilettante dilettante is offline
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Default Elected Judges

It's an off-year election here and, among the various questions on the ballot, are the choices for [state] Supreme Court Judge, Judge of the Commonwealth Court, Judge of the Superior Court, and Judge for the local Court of Common Pleas.

For the Superior Court alone the ballot lists eleven different candidates. To the best of my knowledge, I've never heard of ANY of these people. Nor am I terribly qualified to determine what makes for a really good Superior Court judge. It's not like I can delve into all their past decisions and evaluate trends, etc. And even if I had all the information, it would take days of research.

The press is somewhat helpful with regard to the Supreme Court justice, and I have taken the time to investigate and make a decision there, but there's very little information to go on for all these lower court positions and their multitudinous candidates.

I come out of this process thinking that filling electing judges is silly. What's the point of giving the public a choice if they don't have the ability to make an informed one? Maybe once in a blue moon it would let the people vote out some scandal-ridden judge who was being supported by the political establishment, but the vast majority of the time it seems destined to lead to sub-optimal choices.

Maybe if the major parties in the state assembly/local board were each allowed to nominate one or two candidates and the public got to choose from those? At least that would result in some measure of dedicated vetting and the results of that vetting process could be made readily available. But at the moment I'm inclined to think that there's a lot to be said for the executive-nominates/legislature-confirms process.

Thoughts on elected judges?
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Old Nov 3rd 2017, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Elected Judges

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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
It's an off-year election here and, among the various questions on the ballot, are the choices for [state] Supreme Court Judge, Judge of the Commonwealth Court, Judge of the Superior Court, and Judge for the local Court of Common Pleas.

For the Superior Court alone the ballot lists eleven different candidates. To the best of my knowledge, I've never heard of ANY of these people. Nor am I terribly qualified to determine what makes for a really good Superior Court judge. It's not like I can delve into all their past decisions and evaluate trends, etc. And even if I had all the information, it would take days of research.

The press is somewhat helpful with regard to the Supreme Court justice, and I have taken the time to investigate and make a decision there, but there's very little information to go on for all these lower court positions and their multitudinous candidates.

I come out of this process thinking that filling electing judges is silly. What's the point of giving the public a choice if they don't have the ability to make an informed one? Maybe once in a blue moon it would let the people vote out some scandal-ridden judge who was being supported by the political establishment, but the vast majority of the time it seems destined to lead to sub-optimal choices.

Maybe if the major parties in the state assembly/local board were each allowed to nominate one or two candidates and the public got to choose from those? At least that would result in some measure of dedicated vetting and the results of that vetting process could be made readily available. But at the moment I'm inclined to think that there's a lot to be said for the executive-nominates/legislature-confirms process.

Thoughts on elected judges?
I'm not aware of any country in the world that engages in electing judges - except the USA. And I agree with you completely. It isn't possible to make informed choices and therefore the process doesn't serve the public interest.

There is no need for voters or politicians to be involved in the process. A simple non-partisan review board can be appointed with the authority to appoint judges from lists supplied by the relevant Law Societies of the given jurisdiction.

Btw, Canada has a mandatory retirement rule of age 75 for ALL judges, including the Supreme Court. Damn good rule that is.
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