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Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Judging judges

October 20, 2004

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To the editor:

Our community should be concerned about the rationale behind the campaign not to retain Judge Paula Martin. A similar campaign is under way in Shawnee County to remove Judge Franklin Theis. We have a right to vote not to retain judges for any reason, but we should not focus on one decision by a judge when deciding whether we should retain them. We should consider everything a judge has done, not just a few unpopular decisions.

We are fortunate in Douglas County that our judges are not elected. The process of having a committee recommend individuals to the governor as judges for appointment has provided our county with well-qualified judges, independent as much as possible of politics. The current drive to have people vote "no" on the retention of Judge Martin and Judge Theis based upon a few decisions could undermine all we accomplished through the selection process. Do we really want judges worrying about a popular vote when making their decisions?

The judges in this country are guardians of our constitutional freedoms. Our history has many examples of the judiciary ignoring the will of the majority to achieve a proper constitutional result. If a campaign to remove a judge for one decision works, then a precedent will be set for future retention votes. Such a precedent will have a chilling effect on judges and their ability to function independently of the popular, although not necessarily the right, thing to do. When you consider everything, we should retain both judges.

Michael E. Riling,

Lawrence

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