This Monday, two state senators plan to introduce a measure that could make groundbreaking changes to the way judges in Philadelphia come to the bench (see story). "Our method of picking judges has become too heavily dependent on things such as ballot position, campaign contributions and street money," Sen. Vince Fumo said. "Judges should serve on the basis of their legal experience, competency and professional temperament." Consequently, Fumo and Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Phila.) have announced that they are advancing legislation that would amend the state constitution by requiring the Governor to appoint judges who are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. Who else is supporting this measure? Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts; Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy; Andrew A. Chirls, chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; and Michael Coard, head of a new watchdog organization named Judging the Judges. The legislation - affecting judicial placements for the Philadelphia Common Pleas and Municipal Courts - would create a 19-member judicial nominating commission populated solely by Philadelphia residents. There are a number of procedural hurdles before modern, progressive courts can come to Philadelphia. The proposal must win approval in two consecutive legislative sessions, then voters across the Commonwealth would have to approve the change (affecting only Philadelphia). Finally, Philadelphia voters also would have to support the change in a citywide referendum. A well organized and participatory selection process is the way that most states select their judges, and it's heartening to see Philadelphia move towards a more progressive judiciary selection process. For more information, go to the Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts website.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
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- Our Green Cities
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- The Next American City
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