Friday, May 21, 2010

An Interlude: Judicial Elections in California & Elsewhere (A Legal PSA)

I only touch upon the whole law thing now and again in this blog, but I feel that this is important, so let us support the halls of justice for a few minutes. For those of you not in the know, California voters elect Superior Court judges in their county. Some other states apparently do this as well, so the request I am passing on works for you as well.

To run for judge you only have to meet certain minimum requirements. These requirements do not include an assessment of ability, knowledge, temperament, integrity or other such attributes. Basically, you can get on the ballot as long as you are in the right profession and have worked a certain number of years. When you add this to the fact that most voters know nothing about the candidates, and thus either don't vote in these races or instead pick a person based on their name or occupation, judicial elections turn out to be one big clusterfuck.

This is obviously not good. Most people will be touched by a lawsuit in some way or another over their lives. The last thing you want is a nasty judge--or even worse, an incompetent one. Other than cutting your losses, the only way to deal with incompetency is to appeal a decision, which requires time and money. Plus most appeals are fruitless. So, definitely not good.

I honestly don't care who you vote for. If you'd rather vote for someone who comes across as conservative, go for it. I only ask that you vote and do so for someone who is qualified. To this vein, I want to share a little information with you. Most county bar associations have either come out, or will come out prior to election day, with a list rating candidates. These lists rate a candidate's professional qualifications and competencies without reference to their political leanings. I have found lists for the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego. San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa don't seem to be up yet. The majority of Central California scares me, so Google it.

Please take a look at these lists and cast an informed vote. And if you don't want to decipher between candidates in races with multiple qualified candidates, at least vote in the races where only one candidate is qualified. Bad judges suck for everyone.


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