Is Now the Time to Change the Way Judges are Chosen?

Blue Ribbon Panel debates the issue at the Afton House, December 6th

(Afton, MN) Should judges be elected by the people as they are today, or should judges be appointed by the governor?

Sponsored by Local Voices, a social group of SD 57 Republicans, a blue-ribbon panel will debate the issue on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, at 7 pm at the Historic Afton House Inn. Panelists include Greg Wersal, who carried and won a U.S. Supreme Court challenge that removed campaign restrictions on candidates seeking judgeships; former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Eric Magnuson; 51A State Representative Tim Sanders; 10th District Court Judge Tad Jude; and Chris Penwell, GOP-endorsed candidate for the 10th District Court in 2010.

Pat Anderson, Republican National Committee Woman for Minnesota and former State Auditor will moderate the discussion.

“Everyone wants a judiciary that is fair, objective and enforces the law,” says SD 57 Republican Party Chair Kellie Eigenheer. “The disagreement is how best to get that result – having the people elect judges, as we do now, or having the governor appoint judges based specific merit-based criteria.”

Under Rep. Mike Beard’s proposed legislation (HF 1666) the current contested election system is replaced with a “retention election” system in which judges are initially appointed by the governor for a specific term and Minnesotans decide at the end of their terms whether to retain them by casting a “yes” or “no” vote. If a judge is voted out of office, the governor then appoints a replacement. Beard’s bill establishes a judicial commission to help the public evaluate judges’ actions.

Attorney Greg Wersal has testified against this proposed constitutional amendment at numerous legislative hearings calling it “constitutional malpractice.” Wersal contends that Beard’s proposal provides no checks on the governor’s power to appoint based on politics rather than excellence in the law and creates a judicial unaccountable to the public.

“The panel we’ve assembled represents a wide range of views on judicial selection,” said Eigenheer. “The event is open to the public – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. How we elect our judges affects all of us.”

WHAT: Blue Ribbon Panel discussion about changing the way Minnesota chooses judges

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 6th, 2011. Panel discussion begins at 7 PM at Historic Afton House Inn. Join us at 6:00 for dinner/cocktail and mingle and converse with your fellow Minnesotans. Special menu available.

WHERE: Afton House Inn, 3291 St. Croix tr. S., Afton MN (651) 436-8883


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