There are four ways to seat a state judge – appointment, nonpartisan election, partisan election, and merit. In a country busily betraying the rule-of-law for cronyism, it makes very little difference which we employ.
NC’s liberal Democrats have long embraced a nonpartisan system because voters lean toward conservative judges. Being unable to identify party, the electorate is thus left to guessing on judicial candidates.
Appointment systems put the selection power in the hands of politicians. Merit systems do too, but half the nation’s states use this method because a non-partisan commission can at least pretend to pick the best candidates.
No matter who sits on our benches, we’re still stuck with a corrupt judiciary. Both physicians and attorneys have successfully secured a monopoly, but it’s telling we have far more lawyers than doctors. With one attorney for every 265 citizens, America has the highest concentration of legal professionals in the world. They have to eat.
That cause is aided by a political system whereby the fox guards the henhouse. A disproportionate percentage of politicians are attorneys empowered to protect their own. That includes limiting accountability and competition, facilitating legislation that necessitates legal services, sidestepping judicial reform, and chronically underfunding our court systems.
We support attorney politicians in making laws, but forget their peers are then in charge of interpreting and adjudicating those laws. America has more people in jail than any other country in the world – about 2.5 million. Any society having the world’s highest percentage of attorneys and jailed citizenry is missing something.
95% of all criminal cases are characterized by extensive delays ending in a plea bargain. Built-in inefficiencies, combined with a lack of alternative sentencing resources, do more to habituate than rehabilitate criminals. The only clear winners in this murky system are the attorneys, as politicians, judges, and practitioners, who manufacture, manipulate, and milk the dysfunction. There’s a reason career criminals view lawyers as peers.
Attorneys represent you, but they’re even more dependent upon colleagues and judges. Guess where client needs fit on that priority list? Certainly not all attorneys wear black hats, but very few have the courage to ponder, much less challenge, the systemic harms of their fraternity.
Our legal system, like education and healthcare, functions as a rigged enterprise. It doesn’t matter how we acquire our judges. With fees of two hundred-fifty plus an hour, the wheels of justice will continue to turn slowly.
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