Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Montana Supreme Court Candidates Debate

Listen to the debate between Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur on Montana Public Radio. Whoever is elected will serve eight years as one of seven justices in Montana’s highest court.

Retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson explains that this is just one of three elections to the court this year, but in the other two Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justice Jim Shay are running unopposed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Judicial Retention in Hawaii

The progressive Brennan Center praises Hawaii's system of judicial retention, which uses a commission to determine whether sitting judges should be retained for additional terms. Of course, the important question is who appoints the commission. While the Brennan Center is not troubled that some members of the commission are appointed by the Hawaii State Bar Association, I think it undemocratic to weight the votes of some citizens (lawyers) more than the votes of other citizens in determining who holds powerful positions influencing the direction of the law.

Friday, September 9, 2016

NY Times Depicts Kansas Battle as Judicial Independence vs. Politicized Courts

Predictably-progressive oversimplifications by the Times include "In the Kansas system, judges are appointed by the governor," The Times fails to mention the bar's extraordinarily large role in selecting Kansas Supreme Court justices and the politicization that produces.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Judicial Selection in Guatemala

Stanford University Fellow for Human Rights, Mirte Postema's Study of Guatemala's Judicial Selection Processes "Reforms Alone are Insufficient to Strengthen the Judiciary."

The Abstract:    
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on judicial reform in Central America. This has led to the creation of new infrastructure and laws, but the structural problems in the judiciary remain. The author analyses this problem by means of the examination of Guatemala's 2014 judicial selection processes which, despite the existence of a fairly sophisticated legal framework and transparency requirements, were extensively manipulated by third actors. Subsequently, the author provides recommendations about how to improve this situation and move forward with the strengthening of the judiciary.

Postema writes about judicial nominating commissions somewhat similar to those often used in the United States:

"In an attempt to depoliticize the judicial selection processes, Guatemala selects its Attorney General, Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges by means of Comisiones de PostulaciĆ³n [Nominating Commissions] (CdP). The Constitutional Court is exempted from this process, but other authorities are selected by mechanisms similar to CdPs, to which the principles of the LCP also apply. CdPs are ad hoc bodies that are mandated by the Constitution to establish a shortlist of candidates from
which Congress—or, in case of the selection of the Attorney General, the President—makes the
appointments. The deans of the country’s law schools form the core of CdPs. When judges are selected,other members of the legal community—representatives of the bar association and of judges—also take part in CdPs.