Should We Judge the Judges?

judging-the-judges.gifOn Tuesday, June 3rd, Californians will go to the polls. Many will struggle over which candidates to select for the Superior Court Judge offices. Two weeks ago, I posted an article, “Judging the Judges.” In it, I said I’d get back to you before June 3rd.

In preparation for this post, I learned from Progressive Democrats of L.A. that retired judge Ralph Erickson who is a member of PDLA, spent hours conducting interviews and doing research on the candidates. He participated in the L.A. County Democratic Party endorsement committee. The committee endorsed:

Office No. 69 Harvey A. Silberman
Office No. 72 Hilleri Grossman Merritt
Office No. 82 Cynthia Loo
Office No. 84 Lori-Ann C. Jones
Office No. 94 C. Edward Mack
Office No. 95 Patricia D. Nieto
Office No. 119 Jared D. Moses
Office No. 123 Kathleen Blanchard
Office No. 125 James N. Bianco
Office No. 154 Rocky L. Crabb

Learning that a progressive, who is also a retired judge, was heavily involved in the endorsement process, gives me a greater sense of ease but I’m still not thrilled about the overall process of electing judges. And I hope to see a change one day. If the amount of feedback I received from my last article on this topic is any indication of the hopelessness felt by voters on this issue, then we need to question whether this process is really serving us or would it be just as effective to select judges based on the toss of a coin.

In a piece he entitled, “Why We Vote for Judges,” Jeremy Oberstein of laist.com argues that the act of voting for judges could be contributing to the problem of overcrowded prisons. According to Oberstein, “Judges, beholden to elections and hoping to avoid the perils of negative campaign attacks, seek out ways to toughen their stances on crime by sending offenders to jails and prisons that have skyrocketed our state and federal incarceration rates and further plunged state and federal governments into debt.”

I am very appreciative of the work done by the endorsement committee of the LACDP and will likely use their list when I go to vote on Tuesday.

But, gauging from the tremendous amount of feedback received from the last article on judges, I believe there are many who want to be heard on this issue. I invite anyone to comment on the overall process or on a particular judicial candidate. Any judicial candidates reading this are welcomed to post comments as well. To post your comment, please scroll to the bottom of this article and post it directly sharon-kyle.gifin the “Comments” field this will enable others to read your comment and respond to it.

Let’s see if we can get a dialogue going on these very important underreported campaign races.

– by Sharon Kyle

Other articles by Sharon:
24 May 2008 The Love of a Gay Man

Published by the LA Progressive on June 1, 2008
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About Sharon Kyle

Sharon Kyle, J.D. is the Publisher of the LA Progressive which she co-founded with her husband Dick Price. Ms. Kyle is an adjunct professor of law at Peoples College in Los Angeles. She sits on the board of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter and is on the editorial board of the BlackCommentator.com. Photo courtesy Wadeva Images. www.wadevaimages.com