Local (Kansas) friends listen up! 🙂
Judicial retention is one of those things that many voters either skip, vote all yes, or vote all no. But it’s an important aspect of our democracy, and it deserves due consideration. Alas, it is difficult to find good information on judges. I think this is primarily because there is rarely a political incentive to retaining or failing to retain a judge.
At any rate, I’ve done my homework. And if you like, you may copy my answers. (Uh oh, I think I just had a high school flashback! 🙂 )
Short answer – vote to retain all judges currently on the ballot in Johnson County.
The duty of a judge is to uphold the law. They must employ wisdom, and at all times remain impartial. They may deal with emotional cases, but they must follow the law at all times.
I am not a lawyer. And I certainly don’t have the time to read through endless court decisions to determine if the judges are doing their jobs. (You can – just check out Judgepedia http://judgepedia.org/Main_Page.) Instead, I rely on the opinions of lawyers and judges who have worked with the judge in question. You can find their survey results summarized here:
The above link is to the summary page, but more detailed results are available.
Two state supreme court justices are up for retention, Rosen and Johnson. You may have heard that there is currently a push to get them taken off the bench, arguably due to a recent decision they helped hand down. I say arguably, because this may also have been politically motivated. When I dug deeper, I discovered a few important truths: First, that this decision was handed down at a 6:1 margin by the current supreme court and only these two have the misfortune to be up for retention at the moment. It also struck me that both judges have good reviews by lawyers and fellow judges. Were they right about the actual decision in question? No one has said that the judges were wrong, only that they are angry over an understandably emotional situation that they had thought was behind them. The decision, FWIW, was that each of the two convicted rapists and murderers should have received separate sentencing trials, and that the judge at the sentencing trial gave incorrect instructions to jurors. As a result, their death sentence was suspended. There was also something about overturning redundant/overlapping convictions. As I said, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but at least 6 of the 7 experts whose job it is to know says it is. I also know that these two felons are still in jail and that they will probably have new sentencing hearings … hopefully done according to the law this time. (Maybe the push should be to fire the judge responsible for the sentencing fiasco? Assuming this is a pattern, and not a one-off mistake.) In the meantime, I will vote “yes” to retain these judges.
The Kansas City Star had an excellent article on the topic you may want to peruse:
And as sad as it may be, that Kansas City Star article is just about the only clear information I could find on the question of whether or not to retain the district judges. The Kansas Review only does supreme court and appellate judges. If anyone has additional information regarding district judges that they would like to share, I’m happy to hear it.
In the meantime, I believe that the judges up for retention at the moment are doing their jobs and deserve to keep them. I will vote “yes” to retain all judges.