How do we get non-whacked judges?

I was reading throught this and started wondering, How does one get to be a judge in the first place?

Are they picked by Government, elected by representatives, or work their way up from ruthless lawyer to senile judge?

Though I’m more interested in the British system, I’d welcome info from any point of view, as I’m guessing there’s no simple answer.

Oh and if the mods feel this is more GQ than Cecil please do move it over.

Quick answer: less political influence over the justice system will result in better people on the bench.

Federal judges, like other Federal officials, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

As usual, the method of selecting state judges depends on the state, from direct analogues of the Federal system to popular election.

On the whole, the Federal system is probably best. While it’s true that presidents and senators tend to go with their own party, the system usually selects competent judges, and honest professional judges, once in office, tend to back away from political partisanship as such. (Even Roger Taney, the Chief Justice who wrote the most notoriously bad decision the Supreme Court ever made, in the Dred Scott case, is regarded as having been, on balance, a credit to his office; indeed, I only wish we had a Chief Justice today who would take Taney’s stand on habeas corpus.) A popularly elected judge, on the other hand, has a good chance of being an outright yahoo. (I’ve heard first-hand accounts of elected judges who knew less about the rules of evidence they you can learn from TV shows.)

Another (abortive, alas) thread on the same topic: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=407715

In Ohio, all judges are elected. When a vacancy occurs mid-term, the Governor appoints a judge to fill the spot, and has complete discretion in doing so - the State Senate does not have to vote to confirm. However, the appointee goes before the voters in the very next election - sometimes even later the same year - for election to the balance of the unexpired term. If the judge is elected at that time, he or she still must be approved by the voters at what would have been the end of the original term.

Sometimes we get boneheaded judges, it’s true, and sometimes we get judges who are elected more due to a well-known name than to actual legal acumen. There have been periodic suggestions to shift to a more merit-based system, such as the so-called Missouri System (in which a bipartisan panel of lawyers and nonlawyers gives the Governor a list of potential nominees, based on merit, from which he must choose; any appointed judge then faces a retention election at fixed intervals). I personally favor such a change. However, the political parties, Big Business and Big Labor all like the current system well enough, and effectively spin any change as “They want to take away your right to vote,” that such proposals have been repeatedly defeated.

Our new Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, has taken a step in the right direction, IMHO, in appointing bipartisan advisory panels for judicial vacancies statewide. He’ll still be free to ignore their advice if he wishes, though, and later governors may choose to dissolve the panels.

I once asked a judge I knew how he got to be a judge. His answer was that it was all politics.

This is true to a large extend whether the judgeship is elected or appointed. In New York we are coming out of a large scandal regarding the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s selection of their (virtually always successful) judicial nominees, in which potential candidates would have to essentially give kickbacks to the party to be nominated. Even where the process is a lot cleaner, party loyalty and service is an important factor in getting nominated.

Given that it is quite certain that the appointees will all be Democrats (with maybe a token liberal Republican thrown in for looks), one wonders just how valuable such input will end up being. My guess is that there will still be the usual mix of qualified jurists and unqualified palm greasers.

In England and Wales all judges used to be appointed by the Queen, on the ‘advice’ of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor. In effect, all judges were appointed by the Lord Chancellor. People were generally invited instead of actually applying to be a judge, certainly at the senior levels (High Court and above).

Since the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 the power to appoint judges (as well as many other powers) have been removed from the Lord Chancellor and given to the newly created Judicial Appointments Commission. This is a twelve member body made up of judicial, professional (solicitors & barristers) and lay people. The reason for the change is stated openly on the JAC’s site -

Judicial vacancies are now advertised, both on the JAC’s site and in the press, for example you can apply to be Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division here if you’d like. Actually, you have to already be a member of the judiciary for that one. Here’s a better example of an advertisement (now closed) for High Court judges.

The whole idea is to make the system more open, and to try and get rid of the image of judges as white, male, middle-aged, middle-class, Oxbridge educated, and almost all former barristers. Whether or not it’ll work, especially in the senior courts remains to be seen.

A very good friend of mine ran for election as a municipal judge, and won. She just upped about $5,000 of her own money for her campaign, and rejoiced after the ballots were counted. She had some name recognition as a local attorney, which also helped.

the only way to get rid of bad judges is a constitutional amendment taking the judicial review committee (comprised of judges who oversee other judges) out of the hands of judges. needless to say, judges protect other judges and not you and I. I have had my 1st and 14th amendment violated by mayor, police and prosecutor behind the death of my 25 year old son. The judges protected the system even after concrete evidence was given to the court. have everyone that you know to call their congressman and senator and demand a constitutional amendment taking the judicial review committee out of the hands of judges and put in the hands of each states representatives who will form the judicial review committee, with one attorney on the committee to act only as an advisor. This will restore the constitutional rights of all Americans. allowing other judges to oversee bad judges is tandamont to allowing the wolf to guard the hen house. we think all A[EMAIL=“subsafe688@aol.com”]subsafe688@aol.commericans have constitutional rights. that is a farce, lie and rediculous. I took an oath to uphold our constitution. I could not get an attorney to take the case. I read law and carried all the way to U.S. SUPREME COURT. They did not review. We must get control of our Constitutional rights! Eliminate the problem. Call your congressman and senators. WE MUST GET RID OF BAD JUDGES AND REGAIN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! To many men have died for it and to many moms have cried over their dead sons who died defending our Constitution.

the only way to get rid of bad judges is a constitutional amendment taking the judicial review committee (comprised of judges who oversee other judges) out of the hands of judges. needless to say, judges protect other judges and not you and I. I have had my 1st and 14th amendment violated by mayor, police and prosecutor behind the death of my 25 year old son. The judges protected the system even after concrete evidence was given to the court. have everyone that you know to call their congressman and senator and demand a constitutional amendment taking the judicial review committee out of the hands of judges and put in the hands of each states representatives who will form the judicial review committee, with one attorney on the committee to act only as an advisor. This will restore the constitutional rights of all Americans. allowing other judges to oversee bad judges is tandamont to allowing the wolf to guard the hen house. we think all A[EMAIL=“subsafe688@aol.com”]subsafe688@aol.commericans have constitutional rights. that is a farce, lie and rediculous. I took an oath to uphold our constitution. I could not get an attorney to take the case. I read law and carried all the way to U.S. SUPREME COURT. They did not review. We must get control of our Constitutional rights! Eliminate the problem. Call your congressman and senators. WE MUST GET RID OF BAD JUDGES AND REGAIN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! To many men have died for it and to many moms have cried over their dead sons who died defending our Constitution.

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Zombie thread…

subsafe, if you wish to talk about this, please open a new thread (preferably in Great Debates).

Closed.

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