Archive for Thursday, October 7, 2010

Letters to the editor: Public should determine judges; Judges should remain appointed

October 7, 2010

Public should determine judges

To the editor:

It was my privilege to work with 18 people in Atchison and Leavenworth counties in a grass roots effort across party lines to gather and have validated signatures on a Petition so the people in District Court No. 1 can exercise their right to choose the system (appoint or elect) by which our judges are seated on the bench. The issue will be on the general election ballot.

Currently our judges are appointed because a 9-member nominating commission of a lawyer appointed by the state Supreme Court Chief Justice, four lawyers elected by the lawyers’ bar (who hold the balance of organized power), and four lay people appointed by county commissioners, decides which lawyers’ names will be forwarded to the governor for appointment as judge. Retention judges do not stand before the people and with retention at 98.9 percent they essentially have a job until the mandatory age of retirement. There is no readily available record of the money flow in this system.

With elections a lawyer’s vote will no longer be worth more than any other citizen’s vote. It was that way from 1861 until 1972. Currently judges are elected in half of the Kansas counties and everything is out in the open. In elections contributions of $50 or more are on public record at the courthouse. Judges with a conflict of interest step aside per the judicial canon to avoid impropriety.

It’s time we the people vote yes to elect our judges like we do all other public servants.

Donna Gillett

Leavenworth

Judgeships should remain appointed

To the editor

Our U.S. Constitution specifies all federal judgeships, including Supreme Court justices, are appointed positions. They must be confirmed in the U.S. Senate. The founders purposely kept judgeships sacred from elective processes. Our Kansas system closely mirrors their wishes.

In the “Federalist Papers,” the owner's manual for our Constitution, they clearly and elegantly explained that the judiciary was to be a check and balance of elective government, not part of it. They were to monitor the Executive and Legislative branches, not ally with them.

We shouldn't mire our judgeships in political mud slinging contests. The best won't even run.

Those pushing elected judges have given no solid reasons to return to the past flawed system. What severe problems will this solve? Without that answer this appears to be an idea desperately looking for a fact to back it up — and finding none.

Byron L. Maduska

Leavenworth

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