Monday, August 18, 2003

Why not to have elected judges

The recent articles in the NY Times about state court judges, including this one (registration required), make me think that Virginia has the right away in not picking judges by popular election. The article says, among other things, that "[i]n New York, where State [trial court] judges are elected rather than appointed, the dominant political party in a county can virtually dictate who goes on the bench, and further, who fills hundreds of courthouse jobs. Not surprisingly, those in the courthouses and those hoping to become judges make sure to donate to the party, interviews and campaign finance records show."

Of course, it is no less possible that in Virginia, political activism and campaign contributions to decisionmakers can and sometimes does make a difference in who gets the judgeship, but the outcomes don't seem to based on party standing alone.

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