Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Monday, March 06, 2006

James Sample has an excellent piece on the folly of an elected judiciary up at Slate.

"[J]udicial independence matters. Elected legislators are expected to serve interest-group constituencies. They are expected to build coalitions; to promise outcomes; and to be held accountable for those promises. The representative branches function best when officials are lobbied by contributors and non-contributors alike. But judges—including elected judges—are different. They function best when "lobbied" not at all, or only within the adversarial process and on the basis of law. Judges are accountable for the fundamental American promise of fair trials before impartial arbiters. Therein lies the tragic consequence of money's increasing influence in judicial elections. In the long term, we all suffer—including interest groups—when any decision reinforces suspicions that the biggest donor, and not the best case, wins."

In New York we have merit selection for the judges of our highest court, but all of the judges on our intermediate appellate courts are elected, ad most of our trial court judges are too. This is, perhaps, even worse than having the judges of the highest court elected. More people come into contact with trial level courts, and it's worse when there is even a hint that the system isn't fair at that level.

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