Our blog has moved, and is new and improved.

You should be automatically redirected in 3 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

MSBA to tackle judicial elections at convention

Speaking of Judicial elections (see previous post), the Minnesota State Bar Association's Judicial Elections Committee has voted to depart from the Quie Commission's majority report, which recommended that Minnesota adopt a retention-election system similar to Missouri. Instead, the MSBA committee suggests the MSBA adopt the position advocated in the Quie Commission's minority report. (Click here to see both Quie Commission reports.)

The Quie Commission minority recommended that Minnesota adopt a modified retention system. Under the minority's proposal, judges would be appointed by the governor, who would be required to follow a merit-selection process. After an initial three- or four-year term, a judicial-evaluation commission would review the judge's performance and would have the authority to appoint the judge to another nine year term. This approach would end judicial elections altogether while still subjecting to judges to a form of accountability.

The MSBA Assembly will consider the Judicial Elections Committee's proposal at the bar group's annual meeting in June. The discussion promises to be controversial as all sides of the judicial-elections debate make their views known. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously, there are pros and cons to the existing system, as well as all the alternatives that have been proposed thus far. My comments are only directed at the current system, and any other that envisions public elections of District Court Judges.

We need to return the electoral process to the County where the Judge sits. Although Ramsey and Hennepin are congruent, ALL of the other Districts are so large that the voting population at one end of the District has no idea what the Judge at the other end of the District is doing, or how well they are doing the job.

When there is a contested election, it is the job and duty of the challenger to provide that information to the electorate throughout the district. In a retention election system, no one has that duty or obligation, so it won't get done. Even if 99% of the voters of the County where a Judge sits votes to remove them, the rest of the voters in the balance of the District will usually vote to retain, as they vote for the 'Incumbent' now, and a bad judge will be retained over the objection of the people that know the judge the best, the voters of that County.

I am not saying that we should return to a County Court system. The Judges can and should be able to work and fill in throughout the District, but the votes for or against a Judge should be cast by the voters in the County where the Judge sits. Or, in the case where a Judge sits in more than one County, in all of the counties where they normally hold Court.

Glen Jacobsen
Assistant Renville County Attorney