A better way to choose judges.Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Arden Olson For The Register-Guard
Whether any rule was violated, reasonable people may fairly question the civics civics, branch of learning that treats of the relationship between citizens and their society and state, originally called civil government. With the large immigration into the United States in the latter half of the 19th cent. of Circuit Court Judge Lyle Velure ve·lure
Velvet or a velvetlike fabric.
[Alteration of French velours; see velour.] first filing for re-election and then announcing he would withdraw after his preferred successor had filed for the seat (Register-Guard, March 9), effectively allowing him to choose his replacement. Perhaps that's why, after public reaction, he reconsidered his decision to withdraw.
The policy issues here, however, run deeper than this single circumstance.
Judges are elected in about half of the states, including Oregon. But the history in Oregon and elsewhere is filled with examples of those close to the election system manipulating it to produce what they believe to be good choices for judges.
Another seat is about to be vacant in Lane County, the first announced vacancy resulting in a contested election for the Lane County Circuit Court in 14 years. One reason such elections are rare is a custom that judges resign their posts more than 61 days before the end of their terms, which gives Oregon's governor the opportunity to fill the vacancy under Article V, Section 16 of Oregon's Constitution.
Such appointments provide the new judge the opportunity to stand for election as an `incum- bent.' In many cases, the exception therefore `swallows the rule' that we elect judges.
An assumption underlying that custom - and perhaps Velure's action - is that the electorate cannot be trusted to choose the most qualified, intelligent, fair or impartial judges. One reason for the assumption is that judicial candidates cannot say much while campaigning.
Under Oregon's Code of Judicial Conduct A collection of rules governing the conduct of judges while they serve in their professional capacity.
The Code of Judicial Conduct was formulated by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1972. , candidates may not make any promise of conduct that might limit their `faithful, impartial and diligent' performance of duties and may not identify themselves with any political party.
Candidates are therefore limited principally to explaining their histories and to affirming that they will be impartial and diligent dil·i·gent
Marked by persevering, painstaking effort. See Synonyms at busy.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin d .
The other half of the states that select judges in other ways tend to use `merit selection' panels, empowered to explore the credentials and temperament temperament, in music, the altering of certain intervals from their acoustically correct values to provide a system of tuning whereby music can move from key to key without unacceptably impure sonorities. of judicial candidates. They recommend finalists for appointment to an appropriate official, after which the judges so appointed must stand for re-election each term.
Colorado, to take a Western example, has a judicial nominating commission headed by the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Colorado. It consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. Powers and duties
Appellate jurisdiction and including lawyers and non-lawyers from each congressional district Noun 1. congressional district - a territorial division of a state; entitled to elect one member to the United States House of Representatives
district, territorial dominion, territory, dominion - a region marked off for administrative or other purposes . All vacancies for judicial positions are filled by appointment of the gov- ernor from a list of three candidates chosen by the commission.
Each appointee APPOINTEE. A person who is appointed or selected for a particular purpose; as the appointee under a power, is the person who is to receive the benefit of the trust or power. then stands for re-election, with the question: `Shall Justice (Judge) ... of the Supreme (or other) Court be retained in office?'
This `merit selection' process has been championed for decades by a national nonpartisan non·par·ti·san
Based on, influenced by, affiliated with, or supporting the interests or policies of no single political party: a nonpartisan commission; nonpartisan opinions. organization called the American Judicature Society Founded in 1913, the American Judicature Society (AJS) is an independent, nonpartisan, national organization of judges, lawyers, and interested members of the public whose mission is to improved the justice system - to "secure and promote an independent and qualified judiciary and (www.ajs.org), which has substantial research to support its belief that merit selection produces higher quality judges chosen for good reasons other than their political connections.
Oregon has a strong populist pop·u·list
1. A supporter of the rights and power of the people.
2. Populist A supporter of the Populist Party.
1. history, which makes it common wisdom here that merit selection never will be approved by our voters. Nevertheless, perhaps now is an appropriate time to seriously examine establishing a judicial nomination commission in Oregon.
If the initial selection of judges through free and fair elections is as unusual elsewhere in Oregon as it appears to be in Lane County, a judicial nominating commission would allow the public more real participation in the process, not less.
Arden Olson is a shareholder in the law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick. He formerly served on the executive committee of the board of directors of the American Judicature Society.