Friday, November 16, 2007

Alex, I'll take the Missouri Plan for 20 Million Dollars

Blog CCP has an important post up about a Michigan Supreme Court judge appearing at a Republican fundraising breakfast seeking his share of the twenty million dollars that insiders are expecting to spend on a partisan election campaign for his seat.

Here in Missouri, our Supreme Court judges don't have to ask lawyers, insurance companies and corporations for millions of dollars. Instead, they are chosen by the Governor from a group of three nominated by a bipartisan panel of attorneys and non-attorneys. It's a system that has worked so effectively that voters consistently choose to retain those judges.

Let's keep our way.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently not all agree that Missouri's judicial system is so great either.

"Stephen Bough is a sock puppet for the most corrupt judiciary this state has ever seen. You know why the Missouri Bar doesn't want to get rid of the Missouri Plan? They don't want to take the chance that judges who rule in accordance with the law could end up replacing those whose rulings fill the pockets of corrupt attorneys."

But it sure does suck here in Michigan. Nothing is about the people here anymore. It's all about the corporations.

11/16/2007 9:48 AM  
Anonymous SSideDem said...

Bough, JD Youngs and others are merely trying to buy judgeships by raising money for politicians for 10 or 15 years. If we would let the people decide who will be judges, then these guys might have to work for a living. It is the only way the liberals can stay in power, buy the courts.

11/16/2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger Stephen Bough said...

Anonymous,

I am a sock puppet, a liar, a homophobe, a gay activist, a bible beater, an atheist, a red neck, a faggot, a Republican and a Democrat. All I ask is that you don't tell my mother. She had much higher hopes for me.

11/16/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous notsoanonymous said...

Another interesting tidbit from a post by the St. Louis Oracle in Dec. 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Week marks split decision for trial lawyers

While trial lawyers representing tobacco claimants suffered a big, costly loss in Illinois this week, they solidified their control over courts in Missouri.

Media attention focused on the Illinois Supreme Court's reversal of the $10-billion judgment against Philip Morris. The high court reversed the decision of the notoriously plaintiff-friendly Madison County trial court in a 4-2 split decision. Newly elected Judge Lloyd Karmeier, a Republican, cast the deciding vote. Karmeier was elected to the court last year in a costly contest against Democrat Gordon Maag. Trial lawyers backed Maag, while business interests backed Karmeier. In Illinois, supreme court judges are elected directly by voters in partisan elections, on the same party tickets as candidates for president, governor and the like.

In contrast, under Missouri's non-partisan court plan, vacancies on the Missouri Supreme Court and three district courts of appeal are filled by appointment of the governor, whose choices are limited to three candidates nominated by an appellate judicial commission. Some trial judges, including those in St. Louis City and County, are chosen the same way. Voters periodically vote whether to retain a judge, but no Missouri judge has lost such an election in over 50 years.

But the process in Missouri is still very political. In recent years, trial lawyers representing criminal defendants and personal injury claimants have become major financial supporters of Democratic candidates. This contrasts with the long-time (though eroding) support of Big Business interests for Republican candidates. The legal interests of Big Business (especially casualty insurance companies) are diametrically opposed to the trial lawyers. (In a political context, the term "trial lawyers" does not include those attorneys who appear in the same trials defending claims against insurance companies and other businesses, even though they too are literally trial lawyers.) Republican demonization of trial lawyers' influence over Democratic
candidates reached the presidential level last year, as supporters of the Bush-Cheney ticket criticized Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards for his pre-senatorial career as a trial lawyer.

Missouri’s judicial nominating commissions consist of a designated chief appellate judge plus equal numbers of attorneys elected by the bar and citizen members appointed by the governor, all in staggered terms. During the 12 years preceding the election of Republican Matt Blunt, Democratic governors appointed all of Missouri’s appellate judges and also the citizen members of the commissions. Contests for the lawyer spots are not overtly partisan, but tend to pit candidates favored by trial lawyers against candidates favored by business interests, which correlates strongly with Democrat vs. Republican. Republicans believe that Governor Blunt’s prerogative to pick conservative judges is being thwarted by nominating commissions who present the governor with exclusively Democrat and/or pro-trial lawyer choices from which to pick. Holdover citizen commissioners appointed by Blunt’s Democrat predecessor, Bob Holden, often join with lawyer commissioners who are trial lawyers to do just that. The votes of lawyer commissioners are often decisive. These dynamics raise the stakes in the bar elections for the lawyer members of the commissions.

This is the context in which this and last month’s bar elections for lawyer commissioners took place. The trial lawyers took two of three, and for the first time, women lawyers won all of the contests.

The most important seat was on the appellate judicial commission, the statewide body that nominates judges for the Missouri Supreme Court and the three district courts of appeal. Nancy Mogab won a runoff election, narrowly defeating Frank Gundlach, 1988-1753, for a seat representing eastern Missouri lawyers. Mogab represents injured workers in workers compensation claims and has long been a leader in advocacy groups for trial lawyers, whose support she enjoyed. Her late father, Charlie Mogab, was a legendary St. Louis trial lawyer. In contrast, Gundlach is a partner at a large downtown firm primarily representing business interests and is a past-president of the John Marshall Republican Club (an organization of Republican attorneys). Mogab replaces Gerard Carmody, a partner in a Clayton firm primarily representing business interests, including insurance companies and medical professionals in malpractice cases.

Lawyers in the City of St. Louis elected Mary Anne Seday to the judicial commission for the city’s circuit courts. Seday is a civil rights attorney and LGBT- and abortion-rights activist. This election culminates a 20-year effort on Seday’s part to win a seat on the commission. Her perseverence paid off this year.

Both Mogab and Seday have served on the Board of Governors of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and are frequent contributors to campaigns of Democrats.

Business and insurance interests arguably won only in St. Louis County, whose lawyers elected Debbie Champion. Her firm primarily represents insurance companies and other businesses. Her recent political contributions have gone mostly to Mark Smith, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Congress last year, but also to Republican Catherine Hanaway.

A common thread in all three contests, though, was gender politics. All three winners were recruited by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater St. Louis, which formally endorsed them, promoted them throughout their campaigns, and worked to get out the vote during the election period. Its efforts were encouraged by the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, a publicly funded organization based at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, which a WLA press release credits with providing early strategic advice for these campaigns. In addition, Stacey Newman, Executive Director of the Missouri Women’s Coalition, served as a campaign consultant to the three candidates and was particularly invaluable during the early stages of the Mogab campaign.

The WLA press release notes that the organization seeks “gender parity” on the judiciary in order to “reduce the severity and frequency of systemic gender discrimination and . . . improve the quality of the judiciary and the equality of justice for all litigants.”

FYI- The St. Louis Oracle is a retired attorney.

11/16/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Porchpundit said...

I always liked sock puppets. They were non-threatening and loyal.

I know I like sock puppets more than Neo-Fascists like SSideDem; however, it is so entertaining to see you back on Gone Mild with all your bigoted and uninformed glory. So I see you have decided to add some Libel to the mix -- daring (a framing word for Stupid).

As far as anyone who calls themselves an Oracle, well I think they have spent a bit too much time inspecting their belly-buttons.

11/16/2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog suuuuuuuucks

11/16/2007 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Bough,

Sounds like you would fit right in here in Michigan. I can't understand why we are a blue state when we are so red. Don't worry, I won't tell your mother.

11/16/2007 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment from 2005 - timely, Mr. Byrne.

"A common thread in all three contests, though, was gender politics. All three winners were recruited by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater St. Louis, which formally endorsed them, promoted them throughout their campaigns, and worked to get out the vote during the election period."

First you give them the right to vote, then they become lawyers, then judges!! What's next an equal representation - a full 50%!?!? What's an angry white male to do? This is out of control! I'm going to rush off and tell my daughter to learn to be more submissive.

11/17/2007 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous puppets and tools:

Guess what? I'm a conservative lawyer and I like the Missouri plan. I see no evidence of a corrupt judiciary. To the contrary, Missouri's judiciary, while not perfect, is among the best in the nation. What really gets me is conservative morons who think that electing judges will help them get what they want. What they always forget is that Missouri swings from conservative to liberal and back again. I usually don't use the term "soft-headed" when referring to conservatives, but these soft-headed anonymous commentators have never stopped to think about what will happen to the elected judiciary when the liberals are back in charge. Wake up! You need to hope that that liberals aren't listening to your complaints about the Missouri plan.

Uh, oh. I just realized. We're on a liberal blog.

RM

11/17/2007 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RM,

Laughing out loud in Michigan. Good luck with that. I pray Jesus will help everyone see the right.

11/17/2007 11:14 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Thanks for visiting, RM. RB and I were reminiscing about good times yesterday on a trip to and from Jeff City, and your name came up . . .

Notso - it's kind of hard to know what to make of the article in the context of today's controversy. What point do you think it demonstrates, because I'm really not certain? St. Louisans elected liberals, so democracy is bad? Women shouldn't be elected?

11/18/2007 9:23 AM  
Anonymous notsoanonymous said...

Sorry Dan...

I should have made sure that I pointed it out.

The politics still exist, just at a different level. Instead of the voters of Missouri electing judges. The members of the selection committee are elected by the members of the Missouri Bar who then select the judges. Looks like an election where only one class of voters gets to participate, yet the results have an impact on all. It almost sounds unconsitutional.

If we elected three conservatives to appoint the President, would that not still be a political process?

11/18/2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Notso -

I agree with you - there clearly is politics involved in every possible method of judicial selection, the Missouri Plan included. The advantage of the Missouri Plan is that it allows the political process to play a role, but keeps the focus on the merit of the candidates. Quite seriously, they system has served our state well - we've got a lot of Republican judges I would never want to replace - including the new Supreme Court judge Patricia Breckenridge, originally appointed by Ashcroft to the bench and now appointed by Blunt to the Supremes. Anytime you have me praising something done by Ashcroft and Blunt, you're onto somethimg special!

11/18/2007 2:23 PM  

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