The Disruption of Judicial Elections.

Judicial elections can be very disruptive to a court’s work, especially an appellate court.  Some would see this as one strike against electing appellate judges. The Supreme Court of Ohio has a lot of pending cases that have been argued and submitted.  Three justices are running this year, two (Justices O’Donnell and Cupp) for re-election, and one for election (Justice McGee Brown, who was appointed Dec. 10, 2010,  is running for an unexpired term. And pursuant to Article IV Section 13  of the Ohio Constitution, if an appointed judge loses an election, her term ends as soon as the results of that election are certified.) So, what happens to all those cases that have been argued but not decided?  If all the incumbents win, it’s pretty much business as usual. But in addition to the election, Justice Stratton is retiring at the end of the year, before the end of her term.   In the event of a tie vote on submitted cases where Justice Stratton’s vote would be the deciding one, and she retires before a decision, that case or those cases would have to be reargued.  If an incumbent or two loses in addition, well, let’s just say it will likely be a mad scramble at holdiay time. So, the Supreme Court of Ohio isn’t hearing any new oral arguments until January 8, 2013.

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3 Responses to The Disruption of Judicial Elections.

  1. For anyone who naviely bought into the specious arguments supporting merit selection and retention elections as opposed to the current system, all you need do is look at the few states which chose to go with retention elections to see what a sham it is. They have confirmed that the effect of obscene amounts of money – from out of state interests in particular – has only been magnified, and are being used to remove judges who do not toe the party line in their decisions.

    Unless appointments AND retention decisions are made by a large, truly bipartisan committee, the composition of which is not subject to the influence of politicians, “merit selection/retention” will never work any better than the present system and – as is being borne out – is far worse in terms of the ability of “special interests” to wage war on prospective and current appointees in order to advance a political agenda.

    “Special interests” have no interest in true “merit selection” – they want “their people” on the courts to advance their interests and are willing to spend whatever it takes to gain control of the courts.

    • MBettman says:

      Believe me, I’m not endorsing merit selection/popular retention as a preference. The timing of your comment is fortuitous. In my judicial extern class today we were discussing the horrors of single-issue targeted retention elections in Iowa and Florida. As I told my students, what may have started out as a kinder gentler system no longer is

  2. Andy Engel says:

    And the consequences of passage of Issue 2 would render even merit selection a nightmare.

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