Selecting the best judges

January 9, 2012

A trial attorney's first job is to educate.  We have to educate the judge first, then the jury.  Often we find ourselves combating the long held beliefs of both, but combating those beliefs when such beliefs are so deeply entrenched is a difficult, but necessary, task of defense attorneys.  In states that adhere to the Missouri Plan for judge selection most judges are former prosecutors.  In fact, the surest way to become a judge is to serve your time in the prosecutor's office.  While the Missouri Plan has many strengths, this is one of its greatest weaknesses. 

Our judges are the gatekeepers of justice.  They have tremendous discretion in determining what evidence a jury will and will not hear.  They get to say what evidence the prosecution and defense are entitled to receive from each other.  And, they usually determine the sentencing of defendants found guilty.

In this election year, I encourage you to do some basic research about the judicial candidates you will vote for in November.  The people elected should be qualified to hold that office with a demonstrated track record in fairness and reason.  If you know of a particularly good - or bad - judge, then share it with us in the comments, or on our Facebook page.  We will share your thoughts and comments with others through our social network.  Let's start this dialogue now so that no one has to make a last minute - uninformed decision - come November.