Monday, September 22, 2008

On electing Judges

The way we select judges in the state of Louisiana is a problem. That problem is that they're popularly elected and you can't run against a judge unless you're an attorney. Any attorney who makes his living in the court system won't run against a sitting judge unless they're virtually assured of an easy win.

As evidence, I lived in Natchitoches Parish from 1981 to 1999 and during that time, no judgeship came up for election. Generally, if you're elected to a Judgeship in Lousiana, it's almost a lifetime appointment.

Jeff Sadow talks about it here, and links to a Shreveport Times article. I agree that the way we elect judges is problematic. Jeff and the Shreveport Times both recommend that we appoint our judges, but I think there is an easier solution.

Noawadays when a Judge's term is expiring and no one opposes him or her, the Judge goes in unopposed. That's the problem. The people don't have an opportunity to choose.

I'd like to see a provision that if any elected official, judges, coroners, representatives, you name it. Any elected official who found themselves unopposed would face a referendum of the people. An up or down vote. If he was voted in, we'd keep him. If he was voted out, he was fired. The election officials would set an abbreviated election schedule to fill the post, but the guy who was just voted out was ineligible to run for two terms.

Let's say you've got a judge or a sheriff who runs the parish like his own little fiefdom. When it comes time to elect him, no one wants to run against him. So we have an up or down vote. If the people vote against him, the official gets the boot and we get a new election. The outgowing official is prohibited from running.

It's a fairly simple approach, it gets us away from appointed officials, and it reminds the elected that they're still answerable to the people. It's a win-win.

1 comment:

NathanMartin said...

What an interesting idea! I'm curious if there's been any discussion of this elsewhere? Or is this original with you? Very interesting - worthy of further discussion and thought. :)