Best Judges Money Can Buy
J.A.I.L. News Journal
October 15, 2000
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Best Judges Money Can Buy
Action Plan - Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips and state Sen. Rodney Ellis Call for Summit On Problems With Judicial Elections
By MARY ALICE ROBBINS
The polite judicial races of the past have been replaced by aggressive campaigns fueled by special-interest dollars and characterized by an anything-goes attitude that has some members of the nation’s judiciary concerned about whether the trend is jeopardizing public confidence in the courts.
It’s time to talk about the problems cropping up nationwide, according to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips and state Sen. Rodney Ellis.Phillips, a Republican, and Ellis, a Democrat, initiated plans for a summit meeting scheduled later this year in Chicago for chief justices and lawmakers from the 15 largest states that select judges through some type of elections.....
Phillips says the battle over how tort law should be developed, which was traditionally fought in the legislative arena, expanded to the Texas courts a decade ago but has now moved to the courts in other states.
One of the battleground states this year is Ohio, where trial lawyers and labor unions are lined up behind Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick, a Democrat, while business interests and insurance companies are backing her Republican challenger, Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals Judge Terrence O’Donnell. Resnick, who is seeking her third six-year term on Ohio’s high court, has sided with the majority in several 4-3 decisions involving insurance cases and invalidating a state law that would have limited damages in civil suits."Millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the Resnick-O’Donnell race by candidates’ campaigns and through ‘independent expenditure’ committees that field ads on their behalf," The Columbus Dispatch reported on Sept. 6.....
"I think the number of [judicial] elections around the country where classic interest group politics have led to big spending is increasing," says Randall T. Shepard, chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court."We want something different out of judges than we do out of policymakers," Shepard says. "That’s why I think this trend is bad for the country."....
False Accusations?The source of funding for judicial candidates’ campaigns isn’t the only problem, however. Candidates are becoming aggressive in their campaigning and making accusations — in some cases, false ones — against their opponents.....
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is coordinating the conference. The event is being funded by grants from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation and the Open Society Institute, a private foundation that promotes the development and maintenance of open societies around the world.
States expected to send delegates include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. *
Copyright 2000, Texas Lawyer. All rights reserved.The Blue Sheet
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Call the Blue Sheet today 1-800-783-0313* This is a definite illustration of a cry for the need of J.A.I.L. nationwide among the courts of this country. The above "problem" which precipitates this conference is not a problem but a symptom of a problem. Once JAIL is passed, corrupt judges will be vacating their seats like rats off a sinking ship, making room for a few honest candidates to replace them. Take away the power-base created by absolute immunity of the judges, and you will see civility and integrity return to the judicial races, since the motivation to profit from corruption will have been diminished.J.A.I.L. is an acronym for (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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