Released in 2009 by Washington State University “Public Attitudes Regarding the Selection of Judges in Washington State” this is a great read document. I always appreciate others opinions of the Judiciary, mine has become fact based over the last few years but I still look for opposing views in hopes I am wrong.
While there is plenty of Glass half full insights from likely Lawyers or Law Students, the statistics are revealing the public feels there is lots of room for improvement.
For example on page 21-
“It is clear from the results set forth in Table 14 that registered voters in Washington tend to view their judges favorably. Washingtonians tend to believe that their judges are somewhat accountable to the public, they are fair and impartial in their judgments, they can be relied upon to be honest and trustworthy, and they get high marks for being qualified to serve. With respect to negative traits, there is limited sentiment that special interests exercise undue influence and that justice can be bought. However, among the negative traits, the criticism that Washington’s courts are overly “political” tends to strike a chord with Washington’s registered voters. As noted above, a common theme identified in the comments recorded on the current system of nonpartisan elections related to the “excessive political influence” present in the timing of resignations from the bench and the making of interim appointments.”
Well I guess you could look at the percentages in the above light, or I offer this:
When asked if their Judges were qualified? 45% surveyed responded NO
When Asked if Their Judges were Honest and Trustworthy? 41% responded NO
When asked if they were Fair and Impartial? 42% responded NO
When asked if they were Accountable to the Public? 49% responded NO
Are your Judges Controlled by Special Interest? 22% said YES
Are your Judges “For Sale”? 16% said YES
Are your Judges “Political”? 41% Said YES
I know if I take the BAR exam and score a 65% I have failed, if a person only provides truthful responses on 59% of their IRS 1040 they will get audited and maybe prosecuted, and a quarter of the people think you are controlled by someone or some other group in your job performance, you get fired.
My take on this study is that the Registered Washington State Voters who participated gave the Judges a FAILING grade.
The topic of RETENTION VOTING for Judges seems popular, most people do not know what this is, simply on every election every Judge would face a YES or NO vote regardless of a opponent “SHOULD THIS PERSON REMAIN BEING A JUDGE? YES OR NO.” I am a huge supporter of this, this would allow the people to clean house on some bad apples or bad orchards.
At a recent meeting Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens inquired (pleasantly and certainly no offence meant or taken) as to why I attend Judicial meetings or if I was looking for evidence of the evil empire, at the time I really did not have a substantive answer, having mulled it over I conclude the reason I attend such meetings is not to look for BAD Behavior from Judges it is to look for evidence of GOOD behavior because I have plenty of fact based material covering the abuse of office, misconduct under the color of law, and all around out of control actions of Judges from the Superior Court to the highest Supreme Court Judicial Officers.
I already know the BAD Justice Owens I am looking for the Good, still looking however.