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NCFM causes the California Legislature to do an end run around the state constitution re the non election of judges

January 20, 2012
By

NCFM NOTE: Don’t let anyone tell you that a small group of concerned citizens can’t scare bureaucrats, even judges, into circling their wagons. Unfortunately, they usually have all the big guns and can blow huge holes in any laws threatening their closed club…

by John Van Doorn

Previously, San Diego NCFM members circulated petitions to place judges on the ballot as unopposed candidates in a write-in election.

Apparently, those efforts have unsettled the members of the Judicial Council to the point where they prompted the Legislature to sponsor legislation to do an end run around our right to have duly elected judges.

The new law would increase the number of required signatures from 100 to 0.1% of the eligible voters of a county, bounded by a minimum of 100 signatures and a maximum of 600  (AB-1335, passed by the legislature in 2010 but was vetoed by then Gov. Schwarzenneggar).

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=200920100AB1335&search_keywords=8203

Another attempt was made in the new legislative session (AB-362), this time successfully. The law was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brown in September 2011.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB362&search_keywords=8203

Besides increasing the number of signatures required in larger counties, for each judicial office petitioned, the new law also requires a candidate to file write-in candidacy papers (Elections Code 8600) wherein someone acknowledges they are running for that judicial seat) and further, in the case of a petition for Superior Court judge, that individual must file an affidavit (Elections Code 13.5) with the Registrar attesting to their qualifications to be sworn in as a judicial officer (Cal. Constitution, Acticle VI, Section 15).

The California Constitution requires that judges be elected! So with this new law, how is this accomplished?

When judicial vacancies occur, the law allows the governor to appoint a temporary judge, but an election is to be held at the next election to fill that judicial seat. And when the next election rolls around, no one dares challenge the presently seated and temporarily appointed judge (no doubt due to judicial intimidation) and for some reason, no public election is ever held, not even to affirm the temporarily appointed judge.

No one in their right mind would call this an election? It is nothing more than a political machination to circumvent the California constitution, a machination promulgated by those entrusted to protect our rights rather than violate them.

Of course, on those rare occasions when a judge announces his/her intent to vacate a seat at the right time, we do get a real election and lawyers then dare (or dare I say, are ‘welcomed’ by the Judiciary) run for the seat, at least those vetted for political correctness and party loyalty are “welcome”, others are annoyances to the System.

As things presently sit, the overwhelming majority of our sitting judges have never seen their name printed on a ballot, and more importantly, citizens never were allowed their Constitutional right to state whether the majority of our ’empowered’ judges should be there in the first place; that is, generally speaking appointed judges become permanent judges by default and the citizens of California seldom if ever actually have a choice on election day.

So if the non-legal community of the State of California (everyone except lawyers and judges) wants to see a judge replaced, what recourse do they have? In the case of Appellate and Supreme Court justices, they come up for an affirmation vote every 12 years, so no problem there. But a superior court judge?

There is no process to place trial court level judges up for an affirmation vote every 6 years, and I believe there is no provision for a recall petition such as we have for the Appellate and Supreme Court levels. A member of the general public’s only option is to go to law school (3 years, $200,000+), pass the State Bar (another year or more), and serve ten or more years as an attorney. Does this sound like a Constitutional hurdle through which we would want most of us to pass in order to execute our right to vote? Of course not, and to think otherwise is absurd.

In short, this change in the law has made the office of a California Superior Court judge a life-long entitlement and not an elected position. Our elections code has been molested. Californians are basically denied our constitutional right to elect our trial level judges; a denial contrived by and political operatives and stakeholders who benefit from their corruption of our judicial system.

Which leads to a final question.

Assuming for a minute, that the California Constitution really requires that a judicial officer be elected to office, in the common understanding and interpretation of the word (i.e., their name is placed on a public ballot and they receive a majority of the vote of the public). Are those judges who never faced such an election (and our subsequent combined voice of approval) truly empowered by the State to carry out the will of the people through judgments and sentences? What of the criminal who is incarcerated on Order of a judicial officer who never faced an election of his/her peers, and therefore, under the Constitution, was sentenced by a ‘judicial officer’ not legally empowered to impose the Will of the State?

It seems to me that if the Rule of law is still in effect in this state, that these people presently incarcerated were never offered a fair trial and by virtue of being incarcerated, are presently having their Rights violated. It could be time to open the prison doors as a result of the Judiciary’s desire to improperly assign certain rights to themselves (actually withhold certain unalienable rights, the right to vote, from the Public)?

Comments anyone? I want to write an op-ed piece for the Capital Weekly and would appreciate your comments.

Thanks!

John Van Doorn

NCFM San Diego Chapter Board Member

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2 Responses to NCFM causes the California Legislature to do an end run around the state constitution re the non election of judges

  1. Ray on January 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    "Californians are basically denied our constitutional right to elect our trial level judges; a denial contrived by and political operatives and stakeholders who benefit from their corruption of our judicial system."

    Did you mean to say, "We Californians are basically denied our constitutional right to elect our trial level judges; a denial contrived by political operatives and stakeholders who benefit from their corruption of our judicial system."

  2. Ray2447 on January 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Fascinating information. Unfortunately, as you state, there's little the public, or an average citizen, can do against this select group of deeply entrenched, judicial mafiosas. As they pursue their personal and political ambitions, they, and their supporters, use the Constitution as a door mat to wipe their feet on, instead of as a document that serves the will of the people. I salute your scholarly analysis of this situation and I salute your fine efforts to confront this entrenched evil.

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