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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Judges, money and constitutional elections

Rep. Eric Watson does a good article on constitutional elections v the judicial selection process.

There are some legitimate reasons to consider keeping the Tennessee plan, however, at a very minimum the State Constitution must be amended to comply with the current practice of “selecting” judges. In such a case the people must approve the change at the ballot box back. That is how our state founding fathers intended for our state constitution to be amended. One of the most repeated arguments for retaining the Tennessee Plan is that the high cost of political campaigns could corrupt our judicial system. This is a legitimate concern; however it is possible to have judges comply with a different set of campaign finance laws than typical political campaigns. A few have even proposed some type of heavy restrictions on fundraising by judges with public financing as a part of the solution. This is a radical change that must be seriously discussed before moving forward. One thing is for certain, it is time for fundamental change in the process. Our state constitution is a sacred document that we must follow, not merely pages of suggestions for governing of state.

While he brings up some points often made by the opponents of constitutional elections some questions continues to come to my mind. Was there a real problem of money influencing Tennessee constitutional judicial elections previous to the judicial selection process being implemented? How much was spent electing our supreme court when we did things the constitutional way? If things are different now the question has to be asked.


Why would people suddenly think that what judges do is so important and in need of change if they are deciding things in a legal and constitutional way? Could it be because people are now seeing that our judges are not doing things in a fair and legal way? That their decisions are influenced by their own bias? That they are instead making laws up and doing things on their own intentions with little to hold them accountable?

Could that be a reason people suddenly see the need to be able to pull the judiciary back in to check?


  1. Judicial corruption appears to be a worldwide problem. For many months I have received Google alerts on corrupt judges and the volume is mind boggling. New Mexico is known to be at the top of the FBI list for political corruption. The political, legal and judicial corruption in New Mexico is out of control. New Mexico is known as a "Pay to Play state". I personally have excellent documentation of the corruption of numerous New Mexico Judges from the New Mexico Supreme Court to the lowly Magistrate Court. Additionally, in New Mexico, Judges do not have to be lawyers to be a judge in the Magistrate Court, Probate Court or Municipal Court. New Mexico has what they call Judge's School.
    It might be of interest for people to look at the case of Matter of Eastburn, 121 N.M. 531, 532, 535. "1. Judge may not disobey state statutes or rules and orders of highest court he or she has sworn to support." "As a qualified elector of the State of New Mexico and a registered voter in San Juan County, and as a lawyer who has been admitted to practice in four states, plus several Fedeal jurisdictions, it is Respondent's opinion that the citizens of New Mexico are disserved by the sleaziest judicial system in the United States." I believe some of the above may have been omitted from the Federal printing of this case.
    Further, you should look at:
    Article III, Section 1, U.S. Constitution, which states "The judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, ..."
    Article VI states "...all executives and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution."
    "Article VI "This Constitution, ... shall be the supreme lawof the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby."

  2. "Additionally, in New Mexico, Judges do not have to be lawyers to be a judge in the Magistrate Court, Probate Court or Municipal Court."

    Lawyers? Why would I want lawyers? They are the ones that stole Tennesseans' constitutional vote for judges and instead appoint themselves as the judge selectors (from among themselves of course). This somehow is sold as "less corrupt" than allowing us to vote for whom we deem worthy of being a judge. Specifically Republican lawyers (Norris, Woodson, Overbey, McCord, etc.) and Republican majorities kept this unconstitutional charade going last year by renewing it.

    No man-made system can remove the corruption of man. But, when you limit the number of people required to corrupt a system by say reducing it from 3 million voters to a special interest trial lawyer group....well, you are asking for it.

  3. Every State government official supporting the Retention-Election Statute is violating his or her oath of office. If the Oath of Office is worthless we are in deep trouble.


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