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Letters to the Editor

Court selection

January 22, 2008

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To the editor:

In his letter of Jan. 19, my colleague Stephen Ware advocates repoliticizing the Kansas judicial selection process. Courts and procedure are not Stephen's areas of expertise, so he is perhaps less sensitive to the need to protect our courts from political pressures than those of us who do make courts our specialty.

He doesn't suggest that our system has not worked well. He simply objects to the system. He argues that there is something wrong with a system of judicial selection in which lawyers comprise a majority of one on the nominating commission. If lawyer and non-lawyer members voted as blocs, lawyers could prevail in an otherwise tied vote. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that lawyer and non-lawyer members do behave that way; indeed, it defies reason to think that they would. So his claim that lawyers "dominate" the selection process is unfounded.

He also objects to the "secrecy" of the selection process. The fact that the commission's deliberations are not conducted in public tends to strengthen the merit selection process, not weaken it. No organization conducts its personnel discussions publicly. The "secrecy" objection is not persuasive.

Finally, he suggests that Kansas somehow stands alone among the states. This is very misleading. Our merit selection system, often called the Missouri Plan, is basically the same as that of 12 other states, including our sister heartland states of Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and, of course, Missouri. Our system works well. It ain't broke. The Journal-World editorial was right: No fix is needed.

Robert C. Casad,

Lawrence

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 11 months ago

Why does Kansas not have a Senate confirmation process? That's what's used at the national level.

I think transparent deliberations associated with a public confirmation would be invaluable in vetting a nominee.

Charles L Bloss Jr 6 years, 11 months ago

Everyone knows that a lot of lawyers are crooks. I'm concerned about the judicial selection process as well. Thank you, Lynn

Wilbur_Nether 6 years, 11 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight, Kansas also has a quarter-time legislature--Congress meets year-round. Furthermore, at the Federal level the judges don't stand for retention like they do in Kansas. Our checks and balances system is different, but seems to work pretty well, overall.

I'd be OK (although not thrilled) with some Legislative confirmation process IF we eliminate the requirement judges stand for retention. After all, if the argument is that we ought to model the Federal system, let's adopt the whole thing.

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