Wednesday, November 09, 2005

DeLay Trial Nonsense

I initially dismissed Delay's motions to remove the judge in his case because the judge happened to be a Democrat as DeLay bringing politics into the Courtroom to try to bully the legal system like he bullies legislators. Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor in the case proceeded to ask that the new judge be removed for being a Republican, it seemed as though this would go on forever until they found a judge who was seemingly unconnected with all parties. The initial assessment of the situation still holds true. But I now realize the issue runs deeper than that. At the heart of this political posturing and manipulation of the legal system is a broken legal system in Texas, you see, it turns out Texas elects judges by partison ballot.
The complaints against the Texas judicial system have a long history. In 1987, "60 Minutes," in a program called "Justice for Sale," showed Texas Supreme Court justices taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from lawyers appearing before them. Eleven years later, "60 Minutes" found that little had changed.

In 1998, Texas for Public Justice issued its own report, finding that the seven Texas Supreme Court justices elected since 1994 had raised $9.2 million, of which 40 percent came from interests with cases before the court. A survey taken for the court itself, the group said, found that nearly half of the judges themselves thought that campaign contributions significantly affected their decisions.

Good God! The judges are completely bought and payed for! Doesn't look like a recipe for fair and impartial justice to me. But doesn't nonpartison election of judges have huge problems too? Personally, I don't have a clue what I'm voting for when I vote for a judge. These are clandestine campaigns where the only way to know how a judge thinks is to talk to a friend who has seen that judge in Court or to know someone who is personally friends with the person. So the choice is, either be totally clueless about what a judge stands for, or allow your judges to be completely bought and payed for by whoever happens to be the highest bidder.

It seems to me as though popular election of judges, as nice as it sounds, is nothing more than another broken system that resulted in the populist revolution that moved the Country from not being Democratic enough, to being too Democratic. While this movement lead to great things like popular election of Senators, it also went over the top in other areas such as voter initiative, recall, and popular election of judges. Voters need to accept that who they elect to legislatures will have a huge effect on what types of people serve on the bench, this needs to be an issue to voters who then should put the power of confirming judges in the hands of their representatives, who actually know something about these people.

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