Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What Kind of Person Should Fill the Opening on The Board that Disciplines Judges?

James Badami, the executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, said today he is retiring from the panel in June, KUAR reports. Mr. Badami should be congratulated on a long and scandal-free career of public service.

The nine-member commission investigates and disciplines judges for judicial misconduct. The commission was created by a constitutional amendment in 1988. Various members of the state government get a turn at appointing members, including the Governor, the Lt. Governor, and I believe the Speaker of the House.

What sort of person should the executive or legislative branch pick to fill the position? If it were me, I'd pick a hard one- particularly in one metaphorical part of the anatomy. One that would be for updating the rules of judicial misconduct to include usurpation of the other branches of government's authority.

After all, if a judge got caught with a hooker, I'd expect the commission to give that judge the boot. Violating the Constitution's seperation of powers is just as serious a menance to our liberties, and they are doing that all the time. If you don't believe me, just ask Chief Justice Jim Hannah, who wrote of his colleagues' actions in the latest Lakeview ruling, "the majority is again retaining jurisdiction of this case and continuing to monitor the Legislature's actions. I simply cannot support or condone such a blatant violation of this court's constitutional role."

(continued- click WEDNESDAY below and scroll down for rest of article, or if sent straight here just scroll down.)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Neither can I your Honor.

The legislators are finally getting some grit and tiring of it too. "They're walking all over our constitution," said state Sen. David Bisbee, R-Rogers. "This clearly violates the separation of powers."

The Senator and the Chief Justice are right about the Runaway Court. But what to do about it? I made a tounge-in-cheek reference to appointing a hard, a-hem, "case" to the Judicial Discipline Commission. Actually that might do some good, especially if the legislature wanted someone else to help reign in the courts, but ultimately it would not do much. Here is why: the "Constitutional Amendment (66) that set up the commission in reality hands all power to the State Supreme Court, the very body we are trying to check. It has an elaborate structure set up to present the illusion of outside accountablity, but in reality there is none. The judges are supposed to be held accountable by- are you ready?- the Court itself.

Here are some examples of what I mean. Notice how these seem to present the illusion that the commission has the power over the courts but in reality the Supreme Court is answerable only to itself (within the context of amendment 66). There is a commission, but the Supreme Court itself appoints three of the nine members, and they can even appoint themselves! The Governor appoints three, but the balance are appointed by various other people. So the courts would have to make EVERYBODY mad at them over a period of years to even get a majority of members appointed that wanted to reign them in.

Another example, the Commission can have a "hearing" to decide if a judge should be suspended or removed. And the legislature can enact laws that define what judicial actions justify suspension or removal. If any of the Supreme Court members are the subject of the hearing, any members of the commission that may be State Supreme Court Justices can't attend the hearing. So far so good, right? Wrong! The commission only makes a RECCOMENDATION under the amendment. Guess who has to vote to actually take the action to remove the judge? That's right, THE STATE SUPREME COURT ITSELF. How beautifully Rube Goldbergian in it's intricate circles of toothlessness!

The lone bright spot? This ammendment does not appear to replace the one that allows for the legislature to impeach. Article 15 of our constitution says that judges can be impeached for "gross misconduct in office". Ultimately, in order to uphold their oaths of office, the legislature is going to have to confront the courts, and do it with enough of a deterrent to make it stick.

I realize that most of the ledge does not want this fight, as the courts have cover from the state-wide newspaper. This allows them to force through a statist agenda that the people would otherwise never endorse. They will praise legislators who cravenly cave in to this usurpation as great statesmen and accuse those who are willing to honor their oaths of all manner of madness and evil. Still, whether they want it or not, the battle is upon them. All that is left to do now is to forsake their oaths and bend the knee or fight even through the slings and arrows of the Demo-zette.

7:01 PM, January 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the voters woke up, we could vote out the clowns (assuming some good alternatives ran for office).

7:07 PM, January 03, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Unfortunately the voters who would have to "wake up" are the least likely bunch to do so- the elections are held in May, not November. The vast majority of the voters for judges are the same ones voting in a Democratic primary. This skews results far to the left.

Not that Republican primary voters could do much better if they were in the majority. Judges are still pretending that they can't speak out on issues or discuss past court cases in order for the voters to get a feel for their judicial philosophy. We vote, but is it an informed vote? Not very.

7:24 PM, January 03, 2007  

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