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* * Engaging The Judiciary of South Dakota * *

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  • jail4judges
    J.A.I.L. News Journal ______________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California September 13,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2004
      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                          September 13, 2004

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      Engaging The Judiciary of South Dakota


      It seems as though government periodically seeks to test the gullibility and stupidity of the public to see how far government can go. All they have to do is give their cause some well-sounding title, accompanied by telling the public that the particular act offered to them is good for them. For instance, who could find themselves in opposition to 'The U.S. Patriot Act." After all, it's for your safety!


      So, what is the government trying to promote this time in the name of being good to us? Ah, yes -- this time it is the benefits of our voting away our right to vote in South Dakota. After all, aren't you "sick and tired" of all them political ads, and those counter-attacks in which candidates expose each other. No problem. The South Dakota Legislature proposes Amendment A sparing the South Dakotans the burden of having to go to the polls to vote on their favorite candidate -- at least as far as judges are concerned. While they make this opportunity look as sweet as honey, it is full of stingers, those being namely distancing accountability further from the people. But that's okay, the people won't catch on. (5% of the people make things happen, 15% watch things happen, and 80% don't know what's happening.)


      First off, judges, as it is now, are the only branch of government in South Dakota that must face the voters every eight years. Not even the governor of the state, nor the legislators can enjoy distancing themselves from the voters for eight years. And consider by way of comparison, the President of the United States faces the voters every four years, a Congressman every two years, and U.S. Senators every six years.


      Has it ever dawned upon you that it is always the judges who hold all the cards in government -- namely judicial immunity, unaccountability to inquisition, highest order of privacy, greatest distance from the public, voter obscurity, etc., etc.? Is this just a coincidence? Absolutely not, it is planned this way! This is because it is the judges who control the entire direction of society against the people, and who defend all arbitrary government actions, and who keeps things just the way they are. It is the judges who are the ballast of all corruption in government. What is a ship without a ballast? It would otherwise face being tossed to and fro, and in strong diverse wind, may even sink the ship.


      To help sweeten the pottage of Amendment A, we are told in the Rapid City Journal article below that the recommendations for judges will be performed by a bipartisan Judicial Qualifications Commission. If you really believe this Judicial Qualifications Commission is bipartisan, I have some ocean-front property to sell you South Dakota. These type commissions exist in all fifty states, and are known, without exception, to be very political. Their unofficial "duty" is to cover for complaints against all corrupt judges within the state, but to keep the judges from crossing over the line of becoming an overwhelming public embarrassment to the judicial profession. After all, one can only dilute the milk so much before the public realizes they are purchasing watered milk.


      Further, the Rapid City article states: "A cynical electorate expects some politicians are going to wallow in the mud and try to deceive them. But what would be the effect if judges were to behave similarly?"  God forbid that we should have sunshine illuminating the judges! All vermin tend to flourish in darkness, under rocks and out of sight.


      J.A.I.L., which stands for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, is planned to be placed on the South Dakota ballot for 2006. This measure will place the focus upon accountability of the judges of South Dakota, and will hold judges to their Oaths of Office to protect and defend both the Constitution of the United States and of the State of South Dakota, and to honor all laws in pursuance thereof. It will deter judicial activism (laws issued from the bench), and all political influence. Judges will no longer be able to comfortably cover for government corruption, and the people will start to see the restoration of their rights like they have never seen before.


      J.A.I.L. will restore the sense of justice to all, and reduce the dependence upon attorneys in litigation before judges. People will feel more free to produce and prosper for their own benefit and for that of their children and their children's children. More resources will be left over to spend upon one's own interests because accountability will reduce the size of government. There will be no downside to J.A.I.L.  If you care to get involved in the judicial accountability effort in South Dakota, we ask that you contact the following; State Senator Bill Napoli at (605) 348-7373, Ward 2 Alderman Sam Kooiker at skooiker@..., and Bill Stegmeier, South Dakota JIC, at rmsroll@....      

      Ron Branson





      The Rapid City Journal.com 


      Amendment A protects courts

      By The Journal Editorial Board


      At some point, most people become sick and tired of political ads - especially those that attack an opponent. You know, "Sen. So-And-So's a crook." A cynical electorate expects some politicians are going to wallow in the mud and try to deceive them. But what would be the effect if judges were to behave similarly?


      In South Dakota, circuit court judges face an election every eight years. Some circuit court judges win their spot in an election, but usually they are appointed by the governor following a vacancy. The elections of judges has been in place since 1921. In 1972, a constitutional amendment created the Unified Judicial System; another amendment in 1980 adopted merit selection for Supreme Court justices and interim appointments to the circuit court. Supreme Court justices face a retention election every eight years (voters cast yes or no votes on retention), while circuit court judges, whether appointed or elected, can face an opponent in a judicial election every eight years, although only about 20 percent of judges are opposed.

      Now, thanks to recent U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appeals Court decisions, the judicial landscape has changed.


      Our system of judicial elections has worked because candidates must adhere to the South Dakota Code of Judicial Conduct during elections. Judicial candidates cannot directly solicit campaign contributions - not even knowing who has contributed - nor can they make campaign promises (e.g., "Every DUI will get the maximum sentence").


      Our tradition of nonpartisan judicial elections may be finished after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Minnesota's canon of ethics for judicial elections in 2002 (Minnesota vs. White).


      In response, and in an effort to keep money and special interests from influencing the judiciary, the Legislature has placed Amendment A on the 2004 ballot that would make circuit court judges subject to the same rules as Supreme Court justices. Under the amendment, applicants for circuit court vacancies would be reviewed by a seven-member, bipartisan Judicial Qualifications Commission, which would forward two or more candidates based on the merits of their qualifications to the governor, who would appoint one. This is the same process that exists now for filling Supreme Court and circuit court vacancies and is how about three-quarters of the state's 38 circuit court judges got their jobs. The amendment eliminates elections for circuit court judges, who would face instead a retention election every eight years, like Supreme Court justices. The more open the candidate review process and appointment process is, the better the public will be served.


      7th Circuit Court Judge Janine Kern told the Journal editorial board that Minnesota vs. White inevitably will weaken an impartial judiciary and lead to judges participating in the type of electioneering that often besmirches politicians. 8th Circuit Court Judge Jerry Eckrich, who defeated a sitting judge to win his position, agreed, saying partisan judicial elections unrestrained by a canon of ethics will erode the public's respect for the courts. "Our judiciary works because the public has respect for the rule of law," he said.


      South Dakota is one of 33 states that use merit selection for all or part of their court systems. In those states where unrestricted elections decide who sits on the bench, political ads have been used to accuse judges of corruption for accepting campaign donations, and judicial candidates are allowed to announce how they'll rule in certain type of criminal cases or accuse their opponent of making poor sentencing decisions. Without ethics rules to prevent the practice, a judge could pressure a law firm to contribute to his re-election campaign. Retention elections won't prevent groups or individuals from campaigning against a particular judge, but they also won't be able to handpick a judge to shower their money on in an election contest.


      Opponents of the measure say it takes away the right of citizens to elect a judge. Amendment A, however, would allow voters to reject incompetent or unpopular judges through the retention process.


      Amendment A protects our courts by requiring merit selection of judicial candidates - which is how most judges are chosen now - and allowing voters to vote yes or no in a retention election every eight years. South Dakota has altered its judiciary from time to time in its past. We believe Amendment A introduces changes that will ensure that South Dakota's court system remains independent, nonpartisan and respected.

      Copyright © 2004 The Rapid City Journal
      Rapid City, SD

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