Letters: Better way to pick judges
November 20, 2012 6:16PM
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:06AM
On Nov. 6, Cook County voters made no distinction between the vast majority of judges who deserved to be retained and the few who should not be entrusted with deciding issues of life, liberty and the rights of their fellow citizens.
Illinois has 40-plus years of experience with the current system of selecting judges — partisan elections and nonpartisan retentions — and the flaws of this system are more apparent with each passing election.
The Illinois State Bar Association favors an appointment system in which judges would be selected with the benefit of nonpartisan commissions composed of lawyers and non-lawyers. We believe such a system would bolster an independent, qualified judiciary. But changing the selection process requires an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. We know how difficult this is, after many years of trying.
This leaves us to pursue other measures that can improve the system we have. One of these is tighter rules outlining when a judge should disqualify himself or herself due to campaign support that creates a probability of bias. Public confidence in the justice system demands this kind of common sense rule, and the bar association will be voting next month to approve such a proposal. Illinois is fortunate to have an excellent judiciary. We arrived at that result in spite of, not because of, the method of selection.
John E. Thies
President, Illinois State Bar Association
Veterans need jobs
I watched numerous tributes to my fellow veterans before and during Veterans Day that were moving and long overdue. As a career military man who served during the Vietnam era, I can tell you that what’s needed are jobs and accessible health care for our returning veterans.
The millions spent at football stadiums and on all kinds of local tributes could be better spent creating jobs and simplifying the Veterans Affairs health care system. These returning young warriors need jobs to pay their mortgages and get the medical care they have earned. They can wait on a local monument or another parade or a TV commentator’s praise.
It’s high time that this nation reduce the rhetoric and roll up its collective sleeves and get everyone, especially our veterans, back to work. Praise and accolades do not buy groceries or pay bills or provide a stable future, jobs do.
Michael D. Turay
Master sergeant USAF (retired)