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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Beware lazy judges

posted by on December 7 at 14:24 PM

Of the 21 King County District Court judges up for reelection this year, only one was forced to run against an opponent (actually, there were two challengers). Now a group of criminal defense attorneys has launched a political action committee to raise funds to support candidates willing to challenge sitting judges. Attorney William Kirk, a member of the PAC, says it’s about work quality and accountability. Kirk said: “The level of competence [on the bench] has depreciated and having qualified opponents run against incumbent judges or open seats would only serve to elevate the quality of the district court bench.” Citing a “code of ethics,” Kirk said he couldn’t trash talk specific members of the bench. The PAC, Citizens for Judicial Excellence, hopes to have its website up and running by the end of the week.

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I'm all for having a fine judiciary, but I'm not sure elections are the way to go about this. Since judges won't or can't debate on the issues, they don't really have anything to campaign on. It's hard to campaign for the fact that you're impartial and well versed in the law. The public is too easily swayed by big money special interest groups. I don't have a better suggestion, but I don't think the current system, even with competitive elections, works.

Posted by John | December 7, 2006 3:24 PM

Especially when the new PAC in question is the tool of DUI defense lawyers.

Posted by Joe R | December 7, 2006 3:54 PM

Kirk used to be a DA, but worked at the same court where the only sitting District Court judge got beat out by both challengers (after she got reprimanded for ethics violations). Perhaps it's his desire to see DUI-friendly judges, but it could also be emotional trauma from working with that judge that compels him to work on this new PAC.
Either way, PACs and judicial elections are a bad mix.

Posted by him | December 7, 2006 4:51 PM

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