Judging Judges

Appoint? Elect? Readers weigh in.

Re: "Show Us Your Torts!" by Damon Agnos (Oct. 15)This is an excellent article. It clarified the frustrations I have when I try to vote with a well-reasoned approach. I have no idea who the judges are on the ballot, and I have no means of evaluating them. I too rely on endorsements from groups that I feel are credible, such as The League of Women Voters, but I really have no idea whom I am voting for and what their judicial philosophy may be. Advertisements by the BIAW, who have a partisan bone to pick, I think corrupt the process. Although Mr. Agnos doesn't seem to agree with appointment of judges, it may be the best of all the options. My thanks to the Weekly for publishing an intelligent, thought-provoking, and well-written article. —PeterThis suspicion of the tyranny of the majority was the assumption of the U.S. founders, and that is why they put layers between the general public and the government. It was part of the checks and balances. Now, however, it seems almost a matter of dogma that the general public always knows best. While I am aware of some of the interesting but scenario-limited conclusions in The Wisdom of Crowds, I think the preponderance of the evidence is the other way and the founders were right. Our presidential elections since Jackson seem to demonstrate this. Maybe we should keep judges out of such a mess. Yes, they will be subject to the politics and prejudices of appointment, but at least that will provide further diversification of our imperfect decision-making as a society. —SDThis article is an outstanding and thorough exploration into the issues surrounding judicial elections in Washington. I do still think that most of the traditional notions of judicial detachment from politics and strong opinions are very important, not only for actual fairness but also for the appearance of fairness. No one wants to be a party in a lawsuit where the judge has publicly stated a strong opinion against their position. The courts are the one place in government where people are supposed to be able to simply rely on the law without worrying about the person who is applying it. As the article pointed out, these issues are certainly more difficult in the Supreme Court context, where it is often the duty of the court to give priority to certain policies over others. But overall, the core role of judges is to apply the law to each case, not to have opinions about it. —Kathryn NaegeliInterested voters: Please seek out more information about the candidates. Volunteer to participate in the Muni League's next candidate evaluation process. I did. You'll learn quite a bit about some of the candidates, but more important, you'll gain confidence in the Muni League's excellent candidate rating process. —JeremyIf you think people are concerned (which we are) about the secret world of quasi-elected judges now, just wait until judges are appointed by their lawyer colleagues and political cronies. Be afraid! Be very afraid! —RobertVery good, well-researched article. Thank you for your efforts in keeping the issue in the public eye—those are the itches that get scratched! —RichardWrite to us at letters@seattleweekly.com or comment online!

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