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STATE BAR ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS MERIT SELECTION OF JUDGES

 PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- William C. Cassebaum, president of the 27,000-member Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) today told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the time is right for Pennsylvania to have merit selection of judges.
 "We urge you to seize this historic opportunity to remedy a situation that cries out for a change," said Cassebaum. "It's time that judges are selected based on performance and track record, not on their ballot position or how much money they've been able to raise to run a campaign."
 In urging the lawmakers to endorse merit selection, Cassebaum gave three major reasons. He said merit selection will:
 -- produce judges on the basis of their analytical ability, integrity and judicial temperament, not on their name, ballot position or campaign war chest;
 -- prove to be the best way to obtain racial and gender diversity in the judiciary, and
 -- allow for a system where judicial candidates will not have to mount huge political campaigns and build large campaign war chests, especially from lawyers who may appear before them.
 In his remarks, Cassebaum referred to a survey done by PBA that showed nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they spent no time whatsoever examining the background and qualifications of judicial candidates.
 "Given the fact that judge candidates are barred from discussing their opinions on given subjects, it is little wonder that citizens know so little about them," Cassebaum explained. "Voting in these elections is merely a name game."
 Cassebaum continued by quoting a 1986 report by the Fund for Modern Courts, that said women and minorities have a better chance of becoming judges in states that appoint rather than elect judges. He also stressed that merit selection would eliminate the possible conflict of interest that may exist, because nearly 63 percent of judicial candidates receive campaign contributions from lawyers.
 Cassebaum closed his testimony by pledging PBA's support of Senate Bill 340 and House Bill 2 which call for a constitutional amendment to select appellate court judges on merit.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/16/93
 /CONTACT: Vicki M. Hoak of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, 717-238-6715, ext. 251/


CO: Pennsylvania Bar Association ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

MJ-LJ -- PH007 -- 6797 02/16/93 10:21 EST
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Date:Feb 16, 1993
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