Monday, November 10, 2008

Judge not

I have thought about this and I have no solution either to this problem. We lost two pretty good Judges in this go around in Judge Bert Richardson and Judge Joe Brown.

The only way to do this is to separate the Judge's races from elections during the Presidential and Governor's races and make them non-partisan. i.e. the candidates do not run as a member of a political party. The problem then will be very few folks will vote except for those with a direct stake in the outcomes.

Don't expect our system of electing judges to change
By Clay Robison - Express-News

AUSTIN — The Democratic near-sweep of judicial races in Harris County, following a similar occurrence in Dallas two years ago, may renew calls for the Legislature to scrap the partisan election system for judges.
Forget it. It isn’t going to happen.

There are valid reasons why we shouldn’t elect our state judges on partisan ballots, the main one being that the system allows lawyers and special interest groups to legally purchase court seats with large campaign contributions.

But the obstacles to change — both major political parties and the voters themselves — are too great. Any change in the judicial selection process would require a constitutional amendment, which means two-thirds votes in the House and the Senate plus approval by the voters.
Voters, in past polls, have persistently said they want to continue electing their judges, even if most people just as persistently have no idea who judges and judicial candidates are, a phenomenon that makes partisan sweeps more likely.

As Democrat Linda YaƱez, who lost a race for the Texas Supreme Court last week, observed, “Voters don’t want to give up their right to vote for people they don’t even know.”

So far, voters haven’t had to worry because proposals to make at least some state judges appointed have been bottled up in the Legislature for several years, with party officials helping lead the opposition.

Democrats and Republicans may fight over many things, but both parties like partisan elections.
Even if the Republicans’ loss of judgeships in Houston and Dallas were to prompt the GOP to support a change in the selection method, there will be more than enough Democrats in the Legislature next year to continue to block it.

The now-broken Republican stranglehold on court seats in Houston got a huge boost in 1994, when 19 Democratic district judges were defeated by straight GOP voting. Then, as now, some capable judges as well as some dimmer lights were shown the door.