Monday, December 31, 2007

Kline for Jo Co Judge

Think that the folks running the Johnson County, Kansas Republican Party went too far by putting Phil Kline in as prosecutor, wait till they make him a judge!

Yesterday's KC Star had an informative article by Diane Carroll on attempts in Kansas by the same extreme conservatives who gave Johnson County Phil Kline as prosecutor to rid the state of nonpartisan judges.

In Kansas, voters elect judges in 14 of the state’s 32 judicial districts. In the 18 other districts, including the 10th Judicial District of Johnson County, judges are appointed by the governor after input from lawyers and citizens. The judges face a retention vote every four years.

Tim Golba of Lenexa led the petition drive to place the judicial issue on the ballot, as well as the one that seated a grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood. He said he wants judges who are fair. But he also thinks judges should share their views on issues such as abortion and school finance and be held accountable to the public.

So instead of nonpartisan judges, the anti-abortion crowd wants judges to preview their judicial opinions. Screw the facts of the case, who cares about applying controlling law - tell us how you will rule and we will elect you passed on that. Who cares if it violates the ethics rules for judges.

Thankfully, there is some intelligent opposition that points out there is not a single decision by single Jo Co judge that merits dismantling a successful nonpartisan plan.

Attorney Greg Musil, who leads a citizens group formed to oppose the measure, called Johnson Countians for Justice, said switching to elections might sound good at first blush. But once people understand that the motivation behind it is to fill the courts with conservative judges, they might feel differently, he said.

Musil said he has asked ballot proponents numerous times to point to one outrageous decision made in the last 20 years by any one of Johnson County’s 23 district court judges, four of whom serve in the more limited role of magistrate judges.

“To date, I’ve not heard one from anybody,” Musil said.

Attacks on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan - whether it is in Kansas or Missouri - are designed solely to get partisan hacks with agendas on the bench. Let's hope that Johnson County voters beat this initiative into the ground like they did Kline's attorney general campaign.


Phil Cardarella said...

How about the Star? Lawyers are a special interest group but the corporate theives who hate the Missouri Plan are "citizens groups".

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