I lay this question before the house: Does it matter that citizens have NO information upon which to base a vote for a judge? Citizens have about the same information to base their vote on who serves on the local soils district as on who makes life and death decisions from their judiciary. Do these elections on judicial positions matter? Yes, they matter because a certain narrow type now occupy our judiciary to the exclusion of all others. And it ain't good.
These judicial elections matter because the courts of the state of Oregon are rated at the bottom of the barrel in the entire nation. (See article below entitled "Report Card on the Oregon Supreme Court" dated 6/10/08.)
It is election season. I have laboriously gone through my ballot, reading each segment carefully. There are thirty three (33) subsections of my ballot including a vote for The President of the United States. There are four (4) votes on amending Oregon's state constitution. Weighty stuff! There are votes for local legislative positions. Way over there on the ballot, way, way over there is a vote for a member of the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon and a member of the Court of Appeals for the State of Oregon. All the votes for local judges, save one, were unopposed and decided in the primaries last May. These votes for the highest judicial positions in the state are unopposed.
With each election decision there is much information out there about everything from your local legislators to those constitutional amendments, except for your votes for the local soils district representative and judges. Former judge, U.S. Supreme Court nominee and legal scholar Robert H. Bork wrote that "One of the indispensable institutions of Western civilization is the rule of law". He goes on to state "...that the rule of law has been...subverted by----the rule of judges". Yet, citizens get no information on judicial elections and those elections then go unopposed. This means the judiciary is unaccountable and may do what they want. And they do!
Moreover, there is a judiciary cabal in each county that flies strong and long underneath your radar screen. Have you ever seen the movie Animal House? Remember how the Law and Order students aligned themselves with the ‘administration' to snuff those who don't yield to their narrow view of proper behavior? Those ‘Law and Order' folks become lawyers that are a force in any county because they belong to the largest law firm in each county --- the local district attorney's office. Moreover, they have a built-in constituency, namely, the local sheriff's office. The district attorney's office lawyers work hand-in-hand with the local constabulary on getting the ‘bad' people behind bars and otherwise holding sway in each counties' legal profession. This segment of our legal population are in it together and they work together to perpetuate their prerogatives. Think Kevin Mannix. They have plenty of money behind them. Most other judiciary candidates do not have money behind them, except their own money. (See article "Confessions of a Court-Appointed Criminal Defense Attorney" below dated 8/29/08.) There is a lot of money available from the local ‘administration' to ensure that the local district attorney becomes a judge, even a hanging judge and no information is available to the public to expose this insidious pipeline to a comfortable and powerful sinecure.
What do we do about it? Let's fast-forward to 2012, just four years away. Let's presume that for that segment of time there was an Internet resource for each local lawyer and each local citizen that has been before a judge (including the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Oregon) to formally report on any litigated matter. Let's presume that each lawyer and each citizen then formally evaluated said judge honestly and fairly at said Internet site following that litigated event for all other citizens to see.
Then let's presume that your local media reported annually on the results of these performance evaluations on the information from this Internet site on your local judiciary. Then, what if before each judicial election, whether it be a local or statewide election, there was available to all citizens access to these recorded Internet evaluations that have been made by lawyers and citizens over the last year. Then, what if your local media or local bar association compiled these judicial evaluations for the four-year election cycle for the judiciary of each locale.
Well, there is such an Internet site! There are three ways that you can find out where that judicial evaluation site is; find it yourself, read my blog at bulletinsfromaloha.org or write to me. My E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And since there is a comprehensive and practical Internet evaluative tool for your local judiciary, do you suppose there is also a site for you to evaluate your local lawyer........... so the next educated consumer of legal services can be forewarned accordingly?
Government leaders count on citizens never following up on things. Just like your local Seven/11 store, I am going to be there next year and four years from now to hold them to account.
3980 SW 170th Ave.
Aloha, OR 97007
971 219 5859