Monday, July 13, 2009

Should The Governor Select Missouri Judges?

A group has submitted a 2010 ballot initiative to ask voters to change the way the state selects its judges.
Better Courts for Missouri is advocating the state adopt a procedure that mirrors the federal model. Instead of special committees selecting applicants, the Governor would select judges (with consent of the Senate), according to the Better Courts plan.

"We are taking this issue directly to the people because the courts are important to every citizen. Missourians should have a say in who sits on their high courts, not just elite trial attorneys. The initiative petition is an important right for Missourians," said Better Courts member Larry Russell.
Better Courts argue that the Appellate Judicial Commission "meets in secret," and therefore allows an "elite legal industry to use the commission as a platform to advance their interests." All of the lawyer members under this system, are or were affiliated with the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA), according to Better Courts.
"While opponents of the federal model may claim is too political, the problem with Missouri’s selection scheme is that the politics are hidden behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms, and Missourians have no idea their courts have been taken over by political special interests," said James Harris of Better Courts.
Greene County voters approved a "non-partisan" court plan process last November.

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