While I don’t know if my “Race for the Gavel!” series affected even a single vote in the June 6th elections for Superior Court judges, I do know more public attention in this sort of race is critical. Case in point: it appears that people voting out of guesswork and how a name sounds has ousted a long standing judge and replaced her with a candidate that the BAR association branded “not qualified” for the position.
From the LA Times, 6/8/06:
Judge Dzintra Janavs, a 20-year veteran of the bench, lost by almost 8 percentage points to Lynn Diane Olson, a Hermosa Beach resident and business owner who only late last year reactivated her state bar membership…
Rare in judicial contests, the race had drawn preelection attention because of speculation by political consultants and court observers that Janavs could be particularly vulnerable — and even may have been targeted — because of her unusual name…
Olson, who was rated “not qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., outspent Janavs by more than 2 to 1, giving about $100,000 of her own money compared with about $42,000 in contributions reported by May 20 by the judge.
Based partly on this incident, and more on the general disinterest and ignorance in these races on the part of most voters, I don’t believe judicial appointments should ever be left up to the average citizens. However, so long as they are this makes for an excellent argument in favor of the California Clean Money Campaign. “Clean Money” would allow for eligible candidates to apply for state funding of their campaigns so they could compete with other candidates with more financial (e.g. corporate) resources.
photo by &y via Flickr