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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

With judicial elections, does Missouri love company?

As Minnesota mulls switching from traditional judicial elections to a retention system, Missouri, the state that pioneered retention elections, is reconsidering the whole idea, Minnesota Lawyer reports this week.

Currently in Minnesota, judges run for election every six years. About 10 percent of judges typically get an opponent; the rest run unopposed. Under a retention system, rather than potentially having to choose between a judge and an opponent, voters would only vote on whether or not a judge should be retained. Proponents of retention elections claim that it is less prone to politicization than our current system. Because Missouri originated the retention concept, the idea is called the Missouri Plan.

As Minnesota Lawyer reports this week, Missouri has had a mixed experience with retention elections. Critics point out in the 67 years since Missouri adopted retention elections, only two judges have been unseated.

Of the 30 states that adopted the Missouri Plan in the ‘40s and ‘50s, only seven have retained it in its current form, says St. Louis attorney Bill Placke. “There are far better methods than the Missouri Plan.”

For more from the Minnesota Lawyer article, click here. (Password required).

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