Judges to Decide Who Will Judge the Judges
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California May 13, 2004
Judges to DecideWho Will Judge the JudgesBelow is an article over the power struggle on who should oversee the conduct of New Hampshire's state judges, the judiciary, or the legislature. The legislature argues that the current New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Commission is worthless, and the courts are arguing that for the legislators to get involved in overseeing the judiciary is a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.The court's argument on separation of powers is misplaced indeed. The separation of powers doctrine is being misinterpreted by the courts to mean that one branch of government should not interfere with the operations of another branch. However, it is elementary that the separations doctrine is precisely the very reason each of the branches of government must be a check and balance upon one another. Our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution so that the fullest of accountability would be achieved by the separations doctrine in providing for each branch to challenge and call to account the other two branches of government.The legislature calling the court's commission worthless is well founded by the evidence of the past, and it the same results is well established throughout all fifty states commissions. Ironically, it is the judges who are being called upon to settle this argument between the courts and the legislature.J.A.I.L. proposes a solution to the problem by amending all the fifty states' Constitutions. It is common sense that the People must be the final and last resort of accountability of the judges. This fits with the desired ends of a government of the People, by the People, and for the People. It is clearly manifest that freedom and liberty does not emanate from legislatures, as the saying goes, "No man's liberty, property or freedom is safe so long as the legislature is in session," and that is why we have a judicial system with juries built in. However, it is also clear that the judiciary cannot be trusted either, and must, of necessity, have a body outside of themselves to which they are accountable. The answer certainly is not found in Judicial Commissions because of political influence and control. So, what is the answer? It is, and can only be J.A.I.L. And until that happens our country will continue its plight downhill while the People screech in horror at the direction our country is going. - Ron Branson.~ ~ ~J.A.I.L.- Judicial Accountability Initiative Law - www.jail4judges.org
Court to decide who will judge state judges Concord Monitor Online
May 12, 2004
Who will judge the judges?
For three years, both the Legislature and the judiciary have claimed the right. Now, the state Supreme Court must decide whether its own Judicial Conduct Committee or the rival Judicial Conduct Commission established by the Legislature is legitimate.
Supporters of the former say the Legislature is trespassing on essential court powers, violating the state constitution's separation of powers. They also say the rival committee was set up three years ago partly as payback for the court's unpopular Claremont decision, which required the state to pay for schools.
But critics of the court committee, which disciplined unethical judges for more than two decades, say it performed so poorly it needs to be replaced.
They cite ethical breaches at the Supreme Court that led to the resignation of one justice and the impeachment of the chief justice in 2000, as well as the committee's failure to stop part-time Judge John Fairbanks from stealing millions of dollars from his private law clients a dozen years ago.Concern about judicial ethics came to a head in 2000 when Justice Stephen Thayer resigned over accusations he interfered in his own divorce case and then-Chief Justice David Brock was impeached (and later acquitted) over allegations that such conflicts of interest were routine.
In the aftermath, a task force recommended making the Judicial Conduct Committee independent of the court, with its own staff and funding, and making the court share the power to appoint the committee's members with the governor, the Bar Association and leaders of the House and Senate.
The court endorsed the plan in 2001 and tried to carry it out. But the Legislature refused to pay for it. Instead, it passed a law setting up the virtually identical Judicial Conduct Commission.
The law said the commission should adopt its own code of conduct, a direct challenge to the court's rule-making authority.
The court responded by keeping its committee in place.
Both boards accepted and resolved complaints for two years. Then, last year, the Legislature decreed that all complaints go to the commission starting Jan. 1.The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments today on which committee is legitimate.
"Somewhere along the way, (the independent commission) got hijacked by the Legislature," said Anthony McManus, executive secretary of the court committee. "It was during the period of time when there was a lot of butting heads between the Legislature and the courts."
The committee claims the law creating the commission violated the court's constitutional power to administer lower courts and make court rules with the force of law.
Associate Attorney General Ann Larney, who will defend the law, argues that disciplining judges is a shared responsibility among the branches.
The commission set up by the Legislature can recommend censure or reprimand for unethical judges, but judges can appeal to the Supreme Court. The commission must refer possible crimes to prosecutors and ethics violations to an administrative judge. And nothing prevents the Supreme Court from suspending or otherwise disciplining judges, she said.
"There is no seizure of the judiciary's power of general superintendence over the courts," she wrote in a court filing. "There is some overlapping of power among all three branches."
Scherr is skeptical. When both committees operated, the Legislature could argue it wasn't usurping court authority, he said. But when they cut off complaints to the court committee, legislators effectively said, "We're going to take exclusive control of this," Scherr said.http://www.cmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?SearchID=73171428770835&Avis=CM&Dato=20040512&Kategori=REPOSITORY&Lopenr=405120339&Ref=AR
The case is one of three to be heard this year involving legislative authority over the courts.
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