Monday, March 02, 2009

O'Connor Calls Missouri "Leader of Judicial Independence"

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was in Columbia Friday to praise Missouri's judicial selection plan.
O'Connor told a group of students, professors, attorneys and judges that the role money plays in states with partisan judicial elections has risen to "obscene levels."

Some Republican state lawmakers and conservative critics of the plan want to change the state's judicial selection process, which they argue is dominated by trial lawyers who are not accountable to the public.
This past November, Greene County voters approved what's known as the Non-Partisan Court Plan.
BUT EVEN OPPONENTS of judicial selection are picking out things to champion in O'Connor's remarks. "When even a moderate judge such as Justice O’Connor is calling for reform in the Missouri Plan, we know that now is the time to ensure Missourians have judges that are selected through an unbiased process and secret hearings need to be abolished,” said James Harris, executive director of Better Courts for Missouri.
O'Connor also called for greater transparency in the selection process.
"You can't have secret proceedings," O'Connor said.

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