Archive for September, 2014

Judges are Political Appointees in Minnesota

Posted in Life in the Country on 28, September 2014 by nathanbusch

Article VI, Section 7 of the Minnesota Constitution states that: Judges “shall be elected by the voters from the area which they are to serve.”

I have personal experience with the judicial selection process as it currently exists in the State of Minnesota. During an interview for a judgeship, the Judicial Selection Committee asked me several questions, most of which were mere fluff but two were quite substantial. The first question of any substance was as follows: “tell us about your best case.” I described an adoption case that I handled that involved a minor female child. The second question of any substance caught me by surprise and was as follows: “how does your political ideology align with that of the Governor”? No question was asked to probe either knowledge of the law or competence in applying the law, or respect for constitutional rights, or whether I would be a fair and impartial judge. The Governor then appointed a judge based upon the recommendation of the Judicial Selection Committee. The voters were never given an opportunity to determine who their judge should be; they never gave their consent.

After appointment by the Governor, the interim judge stands for election in what is euphemistically called a “retention election”. This election is specifically designed to retain the political appointee and discourage any challengers.

It is extraordinarily rare for a sitting judge to be opposed in an election because: (1) judges are unique in that the word “Incumbent” is beside their name on the ballot; (2) few people ever vote for judges; (3) all voters in an entire judicial district, which can encompass fifteen counties, are allowed to vote for a judge that is chambered in only one County, and, (4) potential candidates for judge are inhibited from running because that attorney may appear in cases before the sitting judge.

The State has denied your right to choose your judge and replaced that right with the privilege of voting for the judge that the Governor has appointed based, in part, upon politics.

The State has restricted your rights: you must vote to get your rights back!

Nathan A. Busch