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NCJ Number: 97716 Find in a Library
Title: Selecting Michigan's Justices
Journal: Detroit College of Law Review  Volume:1983  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1983)  Pages:1489-1499
Author(s): G M Williams
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, a former State governor, counters arguments against the present system of electing justices (rather than gubernatorial appointment) and recommends that a 12-year term be substituted for the present 8-year term.
Abstract: The usual argument for eliminating the popular election of judges is that the electoral system is political and the system of gubernatorial selection is not political. However, an informal survey of Michigan Supreme Court opinions written from 1976 to 1983 shows no evidence of politicization along party lines. Also, because the Constitution provides for gubernatorial appointment of judges to fill vacancies, the present system is in fact a hybrid one. No evidence suggests that appointed judges are any differently motivated than the elected judges, or that appointment removes politics from the court (many judges are often appointed by a government executive of their own political party.) A highly praised method of judge selection, the Missouri plan, envisions a gubernatorial appointment from a limited pool of candidates screened by a judicial nominating committee. However, studies show that it fails to remove politics from the court, has produced poorly qualified nominees, and reduces accountability since retention elections draw less interest and lower turnouts than regular judicial elections. Instead of altering the election process, the author suggests a longer term for judges. This would reduce the time and expense of campaigning and allow judges more time to deal with the court's workload. The article includes 10 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Judge retention elections; Judge selection; Michigan; State courts
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