Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Judicial Elections: A Disgrace

I've been in several states where there are hotly contested elections for judge or justice. I can tell you that I am sick of the attacks. Shameful. Disgraceful. An attack on the very fabric of our justice system.

In one Florida community there is an ongoing battle for a County Court position. The jurisdiction of county courts extends to civil disputes involving $15,000 or less.

The majority of non-jury trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as a judge of the county court. The county courts are sometimes referred to as "the people's courts," probably because a large part of the courts' work involves voluminous citizen disputes, such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and relatively small monetary disputes.

In the relatively small potatoes court the level of name calling and sniping literally took my breath away. I witnessed a shouting match between supporters of each candidate. I have heard that one candidate has trashed the moral reputation of one lawyer who dared oppose that candidate. The lawyer caught in the crossfire handles six and seven figure cases so the likelihood that he will ever appear before who gets elected is almost zero.

In Georgia, there is a spot running that has been called the most brutal ad ever produced. The opponent had a staffer tell him not to refer to his opponent as a "one legged Jew."

In Virginia a law student is physically tackled for asking a hard question of a senate candidate.

For shame. No solution in sight. Judicial appointments will not work.