Judges Gone Wild #2
By David Gittrich
Kansas is a conservative state, but many of our courts, including the Kansas Supreme Court, are quite liberal. Why? Because the election process of judicial candidates is seriously flawed and does not reflect the views of the majority of Kansans.
Before I explain the current method of selecting judges, let’s play “Who am I?”
The clues: You are given a job by your friends. Your boss has no idea who you are. You are paid quite well and the boss does not care, or know when you work or how long you work or even if you work or not. You have no deadlines or timetable to meet. Your boss really knows nothing about what you are doing and only has to evaluate your job once every six years. At the evaluation, the boss thinks you might be doing a good job, so the boss gives you a positive evaluation and you have another six years to do whatever you want.
Did I mention you get paid a lot of money? In addition, those who are aware of what you are doing or not doing, fear you and are reluctant to say anything negative about you.
Pretty sweet deal! How long do you think it will be before you get lazy and slow about doing your job? Since you can do whatever you want and you pay no attention to company policy, in fact, you begin to think you can make new policy or change existing policy whenever you want. After all, you have the authority to change policy and your boss is totally unaware of your activities. Therefore you have nothing to fear.
In this example, you are a member of the Kansas Supreme Court. You are appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of a committee dominated by your fellow attorneys who want someone who reflects their judicial philosophy (which is very liberal). The attorneys’ committee meets in secret and reports to no one.
Your name is submitted to the Governor as one of three who could be appointed to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court. The Governor must appoint one of the three names submitted to him, but if you are a friend of the Governor or one of his supporters or someone politically connected, your chances are pretty good of being selected. However, if the Governor doesn’t like any of the three, then one of the three must be appointed to the Supreme Court by the Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court.
So, essentially, attorneys control the nomination process. The “boss” or the citizens and voters of Kansas are completely eliminated from the appointment process. The citizens and voters only have some say in the process every six years when the appointed judges stand for the retention vote on the general election ballot. Remember, the “boss,” which is the voters, have little idea of what you have been up to or even if you are doing your job, so retention will most likely be approved.
The majority of the nominating committee are attorneys. There is something wrong with attorneys appointing the judges who will hear their cases. Most people do not get to appoint their superiors. It should not be so in such an important branch of government.
Now you should have an idea why the Kansas method of selecting judges has to be changed. This is just the second article in a series of twelve on Judges Gone Wild. Please watch for the next ten.
Judicial Facts: Only one District Court judge in the last 50 plus years failed to be retained. Why? Because the judge was unhappy with the District Attorney and threatened to burn down his barn.
In the 2012 elections, 73% of Kansans voted to retain a judge who had died a month before the election. His death was widely reported, but it occurred after it was too late to have his name removed from the ballot.
For more information, go to: http://watchdog.org/36761/ks-nominating-commission-is-gatekeeper-to-the-kansas-supreme-court/ and http://judgepedia.org/Kansas_Supreme_Court_Nominating_Commission. If you would like a copy of the booklet, “The Untold Story” that explains the entire situation, please notify the Wichita Office of Kansans For Life at 316-687-5433 or 1-800-928-5433