Monday, July 24, 2006

Vituperative, Radioactive, and Demonized

I am still guest-blogging at SCSU Scholars. I don't want to get into too much of a rut on a couple of subjects, so here is an update to this post (and this one) concerning judicial campaign speech. I was quoted in the Minnesota Lawyer. Here are some excerpts from the story:

St. Paul attorney Gail Chang Bohr remarked that elections have given several people of color and women the opportunity to take the bench. Some judges who made inappropriate remarks about women lawyers have been challenged by women and defeated, she stated. “That gave me a lot of faith in the system because it did not suffer [such] behavior from judges,” she said.

* * *

I am glad she brought this up. When I was in high school, a certain judge would refer to women attorneys as "lawyerettes." A lot of attorneys refer to it as though it happened yesterday. I was going to use it in my own speech as a reason to say that not all judges deserve to be reelected, but ran out of time. It was more powerful coming from Bohr, anyway. More from the article:

St. Paul City Council Member Jay Benanav, who is running for judge in Ramsey County, said there is no perfect system and the public has to be trusted to make the right decisions. He also recommended public financing of judicial campaigns and pledged not to seek a partisan endorsement in his race against incumbent Ramsey County District Court Judge Elena Ostby. (Attorney Paul Godfrey is also running in that race.)

Lipman asked Benanav if he had become “radioactive” among lawyers since his decision to challenge an incumbent.

Benanav responded that he had been told not to run and that there is a “special vituperative response” sometimes directed from lawyers to lawyers who challenge incumbent judges.

* * *

Golden Valley attorney Peter Swanson said that he supported a retention system in which voters would decide if a judge should retain his or her seat rather than have to choose between the judge and an opponent. Such a system is known as a “Missouri Plan” because the state of Missouri has implemented retention elections.

“The Missouri Plan will not fix all the problems, but it’s the right way to go,” Swanson said. The absence of a challenger would ameliorate some of the concerns about excessive spending on judicial campaigns, he added.

Swanson made several pointed remarks about the legal community’s response to the White case. “The bar association would have more credibility if it were part of the solution,” he said. Clearly referring to Wersal, he added, “People who take on constitutional issues should be honored, not demonized.”

Last post on this for awhile. I promise (fingers crossed behind back, just in case).


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