Judges should be selected, not elected

Many years ago I worked for a lawyer who was on a committee that pre-selected judges. Later on, his wife, a lawyer who was then the law secretary for an appellate judge, applied for a judgeship herself.

So I was able to glance through the multi-page submission people who wanted to be judges had to compile to pass muster.

Everything was in that high pile of papers, every moment in every applicant’s life. No application for any position could have demanded more specific information, with documentary proof of every statement an applicant made.

If I remember correctly, the committee reviewed every application and interviewed every applicant. Then the committee would discuss the candidates, arguing for or against, and then they’d vote. It was a long, thorough, complicated process.

That is the way judges should be selected–by knowledgeable committees, not through elections by voters.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the Supreme Court has advised all judges to ignore public sentiment, but studies have found that elections can affect judicial behavior.

Source, Adam Liptak: Judges Who Are Elected Like Politicians Tend to Act Like Them – The New York Times

One particularly powerful paragraph:

Earlier studies have shown that judges facing re-election are more likely to impose harsh criminal sentences, including death sentences.

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