In many American states, judges are elected rather than appointed. Please briefly describe the appointment process in one state. Do you agree with state judges being elected in this manner? What might be done to improve the process? – Justice is meant to be impartial – Today all judges in the U. S. are members of the bar. They almost always come to the bench following several years of law practice, whether as private lawyers, prosecutors, or public defenders.
Part of the American tradition of preferring older judges (contrary to civil law countries) has to do with the need for the judge to have gained adequate knowledge of the law and the complexities of court procedure, particular in the manner of law-making capacities. Therefore career paths of judges in the United States differ from them of judges in civil law countries. The judicial system in the United States is known as dual court system, which means both state and federal governments have their own set of courts.
Thus, there are 50 separate sets of courts in the United States, one for each state and one for the federal government. Judges are elected by the general population or are appointed by elected officials. Methods of selecting state court judges vary widely among the states but can be placed into five broad categories – legislative appointment, executive appointment, non-partisan election, partisan election, and merit selection. 1 Alaska has a merit selection system for judges and justices. A nominating commission screens applicants and selects the most highly-qualified candidates for a judicial vacancy.
The governor appoints a supreme court justice or a judge of the court of appeals, superior court, or district court from a list of qualified candidates submitted by the Alaska Judicial Council. 3 The governor has 45 days from receipt of the list to make the appointment. 4 Magistrates are not appointed by the governor nor are their qualifications reviewed by the Alaska Judicial Council. 5 Their appointments are made for an indefinite period by the presiding judge of the judicial district in which they will serve.
In conclusion I am not agree with the electing system of state judges in the United States. The election of judges is a unique aspect to the justice system in the United States as most countries avoid this selection method. The political system in the United States was founded on the concept that the citizens of the country would best be able to elect who should represent them in the government. This is one effect of a "more" democratic system. Every individual could so influence the judiciary bench.
However, in the justice system, politics have become an increasing disruption to the process they are established to uphold. According to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor: "No other nation in the world does that because they realize you're not going to get fair and impartial judges that way". 6 That could mean that elected judges are not independent and impartial, but ideological and partisan. Basically, a judge can start a judicial career at any level in the judiciary, depending on his ability to influence or inclinations the voters.
Therefore becoming a judge is more to have the ability to attract political support. So it is obvious that a judicial candidate has to be a political person too. Whether have been involved in politics on a regular basis or as a legislators or party chairman. With this in mind a major disadvantage to judicial elections is the need to campaign. Judicial campaigns can be costly and may create enormous ethical dilemmas for judges. 7 Some judges (elected or not) may feel responsible or related to their supporters in later cases. This could influence a fair trail.
However, once on the bench, judges are not supposed to engage in partisan political activity. A judge is bound by law and justice, whereby his subjective moral beliefs and views of what is or is not just, or his own beliefs of what he considers to be appropriate may not influence the application of the law. In spite of a judge may have to give up political activity after going on the bench, but the political orientation may be show through their judicial philosophy. For instance that philosophy might be a "liberal-activist"8 or a more "conservative activist"9 focus.
10 All people (also judges) tend naturally to be inclined one way or the other in disputes between government and individuals, rich and poor or business and individuals. In the way of deciding close questions between two different lines of authority, political views can have a strong influence. On the other hand it should be emphasized that political attitudes may often be unconscious. Those attitudes are in any event no different from the kinds of attitudes that often influence judicial decision making in other legal systems.
Furthermore, judicial philosophy and political attitudes of judges can grow, develop and change. Another fact of the electing process of judges may be the lack of separations of powers. On the one hand it may argue that through an election the population of a state conduct political power. On the other hand may be argue, that through an electing process of judges the separations of powers may not be guaranteed. The separation of powers consists of three categories of powers: legislative, executive and judicial. This was favoured by John Locke to limited the governmental power, to save people from autocracy.
11 By electing state judges on political reason it may have an influence of this doctrine. As it shown above that it is very important for a candidate to influence the voters. And obviously the population may vote for a candidate especially because of the political attitude. So if judges are vote for or in reason of political backgrounds what might be happen with the doctrine of separation of powers. It could come to a shift of powers from the judicial branch through a stronger political influence to the legislative and executive.
Regarding to this it would be an infringement of separation of powers. In other words it could come to a weaker represents of the judicial power. Above all only a merit selection encourages community involvement in judicial selection, limits the role of political favouritism, and ensures that judges are well qualified to occupy positions of public trust. 12 It guarantees that those individuals who are recommended to the elected official (on state level: governor) will be the most qualified applicants.