Monday, May 19, 2014

Law professor against electing judges

Jessica A. Levinson, an associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles, whatever that is, writes in an LA Times op-ed:
Do you know which judicial candidates you are voting for in the next election? Neither do I. And I teach election law.

It matters who serves as judges. They preside over state civil and criminal cases. Whether it is a murder trial or a divorce case, judges make hundreds of important decisions each day.

In June, there are 26 candidates running for 12 contested judicial seats (and three running unopposed in open seats) in Los Angeles County. So how do I decide whom to vote for? ...

There is more than just an informational problem here. It is inherently knotty to ask judges and would-be judges to take part in political campaigns. Judges should be making decisions by applying the law to the facts. Sometimes these decisions will be unpopular. That is often as it should be. ...

We do not hold judicial elections at the federal level. Instead, the president appoints and the Senate confirms federal trial and appellate judges.

For state judges in California, we have a hybrid system. The governor has the power to appoint judges to fill vacant seats, but we hold elections as well. ...

Given the typical voter's lack of information and the innate problems with judicial elections, we should move to a model that eliminates judicial elections.
I say we need more accountability for judges, not less. Admittedly these elections are not very effective at getting rid of bad judges, but I don't see how eliminating elections is going to make it better.

3 comments:

HeligKo said...

In my local elections, the judges are appointed and they have to win a majority of the vote to retain the seat. Unless the judge has done something really great, I vote against them. Most of them have done such horrific things from the bench and behind closed doors, that I see no value in most who want to hold onto their positions.

Anonymous said...

It's no wonder you're not impressed with someone from Loyola law school, it's one of those silly Catholic Universities.

paulmurray said...

"more accountability" ≠ "elections", especially when the elections are pointless because the public knows nothing about the candidates. The USA seems to have election overload, if anything - right down to the school boards. "The public" is not the same thing as "the kind of people that like to vote in local elections".