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Justices making new push to abolish elected judges

•  National News     updated  2009/12/28 10:21


An old debate about whether judges should be elected or appointed is heating up again.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and several state Supreme Court justices are planning a nationwide push during next year's state legislative sessions to end the practice of electing judges. Nevada already has such a proposal before voters on the 2010 ballot.

Many judges and the American Bar Association argue the legal system is tainted by judges seeking campaign donations.

"It doesn't support the fundamental principle of judges acting fairly and impartially," Ohio Chief Justice Tom Moyer told The Associated Press.

A judicial think tank at the University of Denver has assembled a group of prominent judges, including O'Connor, to push for the abolition of directly elected judges in the 33 states that have them.

They want state commissions made up mostly of non-lawyers to pick judges. Governors would appoint judges the commissions select, and voters would decide in future elections whether the judges keep their jobs.

Current judicial elections give a false impression that voters have much invested in court picks, O'Connor said.


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