Articles Tagged with independent judiciary

 

gajudicialbldg-300x166

As I work in my office, I often have livestreaming a trial or appellate arguments occurring in the Georgia Court of Appeals or the Georgia Supreme Court.  I have previously blogged about the meaning of open courts and the value in being able to watch our judicial branch at work. It is your government in action and every citizen has the right to watch it and should be able to watch it.  I firmly believe in it. Today I am glad to see others get on my bandwagon.  CNN published an article today online that essentially agrees with my position. Given the current state of affairs with the attempted ban on Muslims by Executive Order and given the President’s attempt to “blame” the Courts for simply upholding the United States Constitution, there has never been a more important time in our Country’s history than for the people to have total access to the courts through livestreaming or video.   Interestingly, oral arguments Washington v. Trump were broadcast on youtube.com although there was no video portion to watch, just audio.  When our own President is attacking the independence of the judiciary, livestreaming oral arguments would be the very proof needed to show he simply does not know what he is talking about.  Livestreaming oral arguments dealing with unconstitutional executive orders would dispel any absurd suggestion that courts or judges are political and are making decisions based on political pressures. It is ridiculous that our President would even suggest such a thing, when it is absolutely not true, but for any American who might for a minute believe it, they could simply watch for themselves and realize that our judges are making their decisions based on the facts, the law and the Constitution. Increased transparency promotes public participation, open government, access to information, efficiency, higher quality decision- making, and accountability. Further, transparency  reduces the opportunity for corruption.

 

Robin Frazer Clark pursues justice for those who have personal injury claims as a result of being injured in motor vehicle wrecks, trucking wrecks, defective products, defective maintenance of roads, premises safety, medical malpractice and other incidents caused by the negligence of others.  Ms. Clark is the 50th President of the State Bar of Georgia and a Past President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and has practiced law in Georgia for 26 years.  Mrs. Clark is listed as one of the Top 50 Women Trial Lawyers in Georgia and is a Georgia Super Lawyer.  Robin Frazer Clark~Dedicated to the Constitution’s Promise of Justice for All.

Georgia Seal
Do we elect our judges in Georgia?  That seems like a yes or no question, doesn’t it. But in the words of Coach Lee Corso, “Not so fast!”  Why is that hard to answer?  Because it depends.

You may have seen in the news a recently filed lawsuit challenging the Governor’s appointment of three newly created positions on the Georgia Court of Appeals.  The basis of this challenge to the gubernatorial appointments is that the Georgia Constitution requires judges to be elected. The Georgia Constitutional provision the challengers are relying on states:  “All justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the Court of Appeals shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis for a term of six years.”  While the Constitution does provide the governor with the power to appoint persons to vacancies “in certain circumstances,” those circumstances are limited in the Constitution to “death, resignation, or otherwise,” the suit said.

That language “shall be elected” seems pretty strong, doesn’t it?  “Shall” has always been interpreted in legal parlance to be mandatory. No ifs, ands or buts.  So the challengers seem to have a point, right?  The exception to the mandatory election is only “death, resignation or otherwise.”  It does not say in the case of a newly created position on the bench.   Many Georgia voters may assume we elect our judges.  But the truth is the Governor gets to appoint a vast majority of judges.  For example, if a judge retires prior to the completion of his or her term, the Governor has the right to appoint that judge’s successor.  Only if a judge completes his or her term of office until the next election will the voters of Georgia actually elect that judge’s successor. Are you wondering whether the judge in your county was elected or appointed?  That information is readily available. And consider this:  if the Governor appoints someone to fill a vacancy on the bench, then that person will run as an incumbent in the next election. As a practical matter, it is extremely difficult to beat an incumbent judge in Georgia. So the power of appointment by the Governor is pretty important.