Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judicial Appointments for Grandma?

The Republican who headed up the backroom effort to treat Missouri License Offices like political plums instead of vital public services is back on the stump. This time, he's trying to make judicial appointments subject to the same kind of corrupt cronyism that marked fee offices under the Blunt administration.

Two days ago, I did a post entitled "No Idea is Too Stupid to Voice in Jefferson City - or to Win a Republican Majority", about a foolish and ill-thought-out plan to shift the tax burden of our state onto the working poor in mid-Missouri. The attempts to inject Missouri Senate politics into the selection of our judges deserves the same title, though.

Please keep these two points in mind, whenever you hear any discussion about the Missouri Plan for Selection of Judges - the Missouri Plan works well, and every single attempt to change the Missouri Plan is designed to increase the role of politicians and political consultants.

If you want a primer on the plan as it exists, please take a few minutes and read "The Complete Honest Truth about the Missouri Plan", which I wrote a year and a half ago when people were trying to inject more politics into the selection process.

This time around, the effort to corrupt our system is being led by the very same person whose cronyism caused the Missouri fee office appointment system to explode into an embarrassing scandal. He even gave one of the offices to his grandmother! (Perhaps she wants to be a judge now?)

This is one of the most important and troubling issues in Jefferson City this year, and even though it's complex and not particularly sexy, I urge you to educate yourself about the issue and encourage your Senator to preserve the Missouri Plan.



Anonymous Jim Byrne said...

Oh yes! Please do EDUCATE yourself.

Our most important courts are our appellate courts. In Missouri, we have three District Appellate Courts, and one Supreme Court. These courts have the responsibility of ensuring that the lower court judges don't "misapply" the law.

Unfortunately, Missouri has established a method of selection that permits the Supreme Court to ensure that the only judges to be appointed to the appellate courts are those judges that will cover-up for the lower-court judge that "misapplies" the law. This permits corruption to run rampant in the lower courts. This method of selection is known as "The Missouri Plan" or "merit selection". -The most notable thing is; that this so-called method of merit selection, though having been around for 69 years, has never defined a single article of merit. --Not one! Even the Boy Scouts have defined articles of merit that are required to obtain a "Merit Badge". -It is true that merit selection is used in a number of other states. However, the dynamics of merit selection varies widely aomong those states.The Appellate Selection Commission (the commission that nominates judges to the appellate courts), when approved by the voters, consisted of three separate entities: A Judge of the Missouri Supreme Court, three lawyers who are members of the bar of the state (which was a benevolent society -completely separate from the Missouri Supreme Court), and three lay members appointed by the governor.

When the Missouri Plan was adopted, it involved three separate entities that would nominate three applicants to the governor. Shortly after its adoption by the voters, the Missouri Supreme Court, through its power to create rules for practice and procedure (also adopted in 1940), made the bar association of the state (known as the Missouri Bar Association since May 24th, 1882), a committee of the Missouri Supreme Court itself. This now gave the Missouri Supreme Court, and its newly acquired Committee, a 4-3 control over the nomination process. (Do you really think the members of the bar are going to vote against a judge on the supreme court?) -The Supreme Court did this without voter approval. -Missouri Plan was approved by the voters in 1940. Adoption of the Missouri Bar, as a committee of the Missouri Supreme Court occurred in 1944. Our current plan for judicial nomination/selection IS NOT that which was approved by the voters in 1940. Sorry Dan, but I don't think you have told your readers the "complete and honest truth". Perhaps you should also have told them that you were a member of the Board of Governors for the Missouri Bar Association.In 1970, the Missouri Voters approved the creation of a commission to handle the discipline of bad judges. This is known as the Commission for the Retirement, Removal, and Discipline of Judges (C.R.R.D.) or as it is more affectionately known; CRUD. This commission has become a secretive clearing house for judicial complaints. (I know this because I have personally witnessed it...and NO...not as a disgruntled litigant.) Two of the members are judges, two members are attorneys (members of the committee of the Supreme Court) and two members are laymen appointed by the governor. It takes 4 of the 6 members to agree, before a formal investigation is initiated. -As you can see, the lay members are easily silenced.

However, that wasn't good enough; In 1987, the Missouri Supreme Court created Rule 12.

"Except as otherwise provided in this Rule 12.21, all papers filed in proceedings before the Commission shall be confidential unless and until the Commission files a recommendation with this Court that the judge, member of a judicial commission, or member of this Commission be retired, removed, or disciplined."
Not even the Governor of Missouri can have access to complaints filed with the commission, unless that judge is currently a candidate for a court in which the governor has appointment authority. How many governors even think of asking for any complaints that have been filed. Further, how would the governor even know if the commission turned over ALL of the complaints?

In California, they'll tell you who the bad judges are. Here's a list of their top 15 from 2003, along with the number of complaints:

Ronald Sohigian (358)
Mary Ann Murphy (148)
Alan Buckner (100)
David Workman (92)
Malcolm Mackey (92)
Richard Hubbell (70)
Alexander Williams III (67)
David Yaffe (66)
Ernest Hiroshige (61)
Jeffrey Wiatt (60)
Irving Feffer (59)
David Schacter (57)
Aurelio Munoz (56)
Dzintra Janavs (54)
Fumiko Wasserman (50)

Two of these judges (Buckner and Wiatt) have since committed suicide. A third (Janavs) was voted off the bench, but promptly re-appointed by the governor. ("Put him bach on the bench" said Arnold)

In Missouri, we can't even find out how many complaints have been filed against a judge. Could you imagine going to a doctor, who subesquently injured you, only to find out that the doctor has had 350 hidden complaints filed against them? What would you say when you found out that the entity handling the complaints had an interest in preserving the appearance of the doctor?Our judges are granted the authority to control the freedom and property of those who appear before them. Why do they have a need to be so secretive?

Selection of the jury has always been an open process. Why should selection of the jurist be any different?

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." --Patrick Henry

To make matters worse, the Missouri Supreme Court is the only branch of government with the authority to remove a judge (or anyone in our state government) from office. Only Missouri and Nebraska have that arrangement. This authority must be placed in the hands of the Senate, as they are held accountable to the electorate.

We have independence without accountability, which will naturally lead to corruption, tyranny, and oppression.

How do we put an end to it?

1. Remove the Missouri Bar from the control of the Missouri Supreme Court.

2. Increase the number of lay appointees to the C.R.R.D. Make it 5 laymen and combination of 4 judges and attorneys, and make one of the laymen the Chairman (one year terms, selected by vote of the laymen).

3. Remove the member of the Supreme Court from the appellate selection commission. (Judges should not be selecting their replacements.)

These are just the preliminary steps to be taken.

Do a Google search for "judge disciplined". You'll find many. What you won't find is any from Missouri.

Retention elections are a farce. To make matters worse; even if a judge is removed by failure to be retained -The Missouri Supreme Court just places them on the bench in another county -as a Senior Judge. (I guess working full time for half pay makes them a better judge.) -This is what happened with Judge John Hutcherson. Three Bar Associations, including the Missouri Bar Association, gave this judge bad reviews. The voters chose not to retain him in 1992. --From 1996 to 2007, Judge Hutcherson sat on the bench in 13 other counties. -And since he was a "Senior Judge" -only the Missouri Supreme Court could remove him. How many times does the Missouri Supreme Court have to spit in the faces of the citizens of Missouri before they will see the light?

4/23/2009 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

(Do you really think the members of the bar are going to vote against a judge on the supreme court?)As a member of the Missouri Bar, I would relish the opportunity to have my vote count equally to that of a judge. That's a lawyer's dream come true! At last! A real say in the matter!

Unfortunately, Missouri has established a method of selection that permits the Supreme Court to ensure that the only judges to be appointed to the appellate courts are those judges that will cover-up for the lower-court judge that "misapplies" the law.I'm sorry, but this is beyond goofy. Trial court judges do not like being reversed on appeal, that much is true. But they don't run around doing whatever the hell they want with the assurance that the court of appeals will cover their butts. They tend to act conservatively. Err on the side of caution. Make preliminary rulings that encourage parties to settle. Avoid appellate review, precisely because they are afraid of being called out as wrong.

Now, there's a lot of wiggle room in there. A conservative judge is not a corrupt judge. And if you want to see more judges overturned on appeal, the quickest way to it is to fund more appeals.

The dynamic in play has nothing to do with the way we select judges. It has to do with human nature, the nature of appellate review, and the economics of litigation.

4/23/2009 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sophia, the anonymous attorney, is going to have the courage to stand up against a judge of the Missouri Supreme Court. -Now that's funny!
It reminds me of "Guess Again" by the Bacon Brothers.

Your comment only exemplifies the truth. You posted anonymously, and you didn't ask for proof to support the stated claims. -Your subconscious wouldn't let you even consider the possibility. In fact, like most people, it could be happening right in front of your eyes, and you still wouldn't see it. -This is known as selective bias.

"if you want to see more judges overturned on appeal, the quickest way to it is to fund more appeals".

So it's not about's about money. --Note to self; don't bother filing an appeal. It's not about error of the court. It's about the appellate courts not having the funds to perform due diligence of those appeals. I can almost envision the new sign in front of the Court of Appeals. -"Sorry, you're screwed. We don't have the funding necessary to address your appeal". –I guess that would be called truth in advertising. -Something tells would not have made such a bold statement without your cloak of anonymity.

You completely avoided the Courts actions with regard to Judge Hutcherson, and the Supreme Courts rearrangement of the selection commission without voter approval. -Why is that?

4/23/2009 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Sophia, the anonymous attorney, is going to have the courage to stand up against a judge of the Missouri Supreme Court.I realize there are people in this world who consider the sole measure of courage to be a willingness to sign one's name to internet comments. I fall into the "discretion is the better part of valor" camp.

I've never had the pleasure of serving on a selection committee, but I wouldn't consider voting differently than a judge to be "standing up" to that judge. You're on the committee to give your opinion. I've served on committees where other members had far more direct control over my future than any supreme court judge would and I had no problem expressing dissenting opinion. And I wouldn't consider that an act of courage as much as performing the function you were asked to perform- consider facts and give your opinion.

It's about the appellate courts not having the funds to perform due diligence of those appeals.At first I was going to give you a pass on this, because my wording was ambiguous. But then I remembered you're Mr. History /Master of Court Knowledge, and you know that the Court of Appeals doesn't have the right to turn away appeals because of funding issues. The only appeals they are free to reject are the ones so sloppily presented that a fair resolution would require mind-reading on the part of the panel.

I meant parties can't afford appeals. Bad judging gets swept under the rug when parties can't afford appeals, or consider them economically foolish to pursue. If you had government money to fund appeals (a political non-starter), then more mistakes would be corrected. Because that's what the appeals court does.

The fact that you took the ambiguity in my words to mean something you should know to be untrue reveals a bit of "selective bias" in you, doesn't it?

4/23/2009 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, third paragraph "here" should be "hear." Thank you!

4/23/2009 4:31 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 4:31 - Thank you.

Jim - We've been through all this before, haven't we? But, for those who may be distracted by your flawed stridency, allow me to make a few points.

First off, corruption does not "run rampant in the lower courts". I mean, really, sincerely, it does not. In my years of practicing in Missouri's courts, I ran into good judges and less-good judges, but never a single corrupt judge. If corruption were running rampant, I would have at least seen the race. Perhaps, someone somewhere in some court did something corrupt at some time - it is a system created by mankind, and thus has the potential for corruption - but to claim that corruption runs rampant is simply nonsense, and insulting to the great people who don the black robes. Shame on Jim Byrne for making such a sweeping, inflammatory and false claim.

As for the goofy comparison of judges and merit badges, Mr. Byrne has apparently not read much about the characteristics sought in judges. If you want a glimmer, Jim, you might want to read the judicial evaluations undertaken by the Missouri Bar for retention elections.

Which gets us to the absurdly out-of-place complaints you raise about judicial complaints. Jim, that's a totally different issue. You might as well be complaining about the upholstery in the appellate courtrooms. It may or may not be a topic worth discussing, but it has nothing to do with judicial selection.

Similarly out of place, but this time completely wrong are your complaints about retention elections. Again, Jim, this is about judicial selection, not retention. It's a different thing. But, in this case, in your vain attempt to attack all things judicial, you kind of prove my point about the efficacy of the judicial selection process. You are absolutely correct that bad judges are far less common in Missouri's courts than in other states'. That's not a flaw in the system, Jim - that's a strength. If we had a bunch of bad judges here in Missouri, I'd be joining you in seeking changes to the system, but we don't and I'm not.

Readers, I encourage you to read all perspectives on this important issue. Jim, if you want to put up a link to that website where you claim that we all live in a tyranny controlled by a single judge in Cole County, or whatever that claim is (I confess I cannot quite track your conspiracy claims), please do so. If you need help in creating a link, email it to me and I'll be happy to put it up for you.

But, readers, please keep your eye on the ball here. As stated in my post, every single attempt to change the Missouri Plan is designed to increase the role of politicians and political consultants. Do you want a judiciary that is as corrupt as our legislature?

4/24/2009 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Jim Byrne said...


You’re as naïve and transparent as Sophia.

“First off, corruption does not "run rampant in the lower courts".” -Oh! I’m sorry. As long as you say it doesn’t exist; it must not exist. Much like MammyGate or the Funkadelic Circus.While I’m more than willing to accept that you may be unaware of corruption; to say that it simply does not exist, only because you haven’t noticed it, would be irrational.

Your readers aren’t stupid. They took notice of the fact that both you and Sophia avoided presenting any defense for the Supreme Court’s subversive change to Missouri Plan by making the Missouri Bar Association a committee of the Supreme Court itself, nor did you provide any justifiable reason for the Supreme Court to laugh in the faces of the voters, by placing Judge Hutcherson on the bench in 13 other counties after the Missouri Bar Association gave him piss-poor reviews, which led to the voters having made a choice to not retain him on the bench.

”the great people who don the black robes” -Who are these people? What are their qualifications? –They’re attorneys! That’s all. Nothing more, and nothing less. A 25 year-old attorney, who has just graduated law school, can run for the office of judge in most counties of Missouri, and because they have enough financial backing, or a well-known family name, can end up on the bench. No additional qualifications are required in order to be selected under the Missouri Plan. Judges aren’t required to pass a background check, a psychological exam, or a polygraph. No one performs an independent investigation that would demonstrate their integrity. –So don’t act like these people, who merely don black robes, have somehow been sent to us by God Almighty. That pure and utter bullshit. –Only a fellow attorney, or a layman who is completely unaware of judicial qualifications, would support your claim. For those that don’t know; the required qualifications to be a judge in Missouri are located in Article V, Section 21 of the Missouri Constitution.

“As for the goofy comparison of judges and merit badges, Mr. Byrne has apparently not read much about the characteristics sought in judges.” -As I have made quite clear, the Missouri Bar Association is a committee of the Missouri Supreme Court. Who evaluates judges in Missouri? Answer:–The Missouri Bar Association. Now that’s what I call an independent evaluation! Further, they only evaluate judges that run for retention. The judges in most of the State are not evaluated. I am, however, happy to see that you can't find any defined articles of merit either.Did you read the performance evaluation for Judge Pat Breckenridge of the Missouri Supreme Court? –It looks more like a marketing flyer than an evaluation. Here..Read it. Tell me where a “survey” would have concluded that “Judge Breckenridge has a strong commitment to community service”.

As if that’s not bad enough; take a look at the “Lawyer Survey Results” for Judge Breckenridge.
Her highest score was for “being courteous toward attorneys”. I almost surprised that they didn’t include “loves kittens”.
Please note that I have nothing against Judge Breckenridge. I have met her, and found her to be quite personable. (I have also heard that Jeffrey Dalmer was a heck of a nice guy.) I chose her as an example simply because she was the only judge of the Missouri Supreme Court on the 2008 ballot.”Which gets us to the absurdly out-of-place complaints you raise about judicial complaints.” -You’re right Dan! The fact that judicial complaints are hidden from public scrutiny, not because the voters decided that was the right thing to do, but, because the Missouri Supreme Court decide it was the best way to preserve the appearance of the courts, we should bury our heads in the sand.

“Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked..” -John Lyle in Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein

Does the quote provided above even make sense to you? Were you so well indoctrinated in Law School, that you can’t recognize the inherent dangers of secrecy? Do you really think that just because the C.R.R.D. is not required to publish complaints, that the rest of us would not deem them to have merit? –If so, you’re too mentally blind to acknowledge your surroundings. –Keep your head in the sand, but do us all a favor, and keep your blinded thoughts to yourself.

”Readers, I encourage you to read all perspectives on this important issue.” -As do I. And readers: keep in mind the source of the perspective. Do you want the perspective of an insider (Dan), or do you want the objective perspective of someone who has nothing to gain? Regular readers will remember Dan’s insider perspective with regard to Funk and Gloria. They’ll also remember that Dan, who didn’t even know that Gov. Granholm, who was born in Canada, and has one of the lowest approval rates of any governor in the country, was considered, by Dan, to be a likely future President of the United States.

“But, readers, please keep your eye on the ball here. As stated in my post, every single attempt to change the Missouri Plan is designed to increase the role of politicians and political consultants. Do you want a judiciary that is as corrupt as our legislature?”Perhaps if we permitted our Legislature to operate with same amount of secrecy that we do our judiciary, we would not see anything wrong there either. Which reporter, from our, oh so forthright media, has investigated a complaint of judicial corruption? Last month, ABC reported widespread judicial corruption at the federal level. None of the "Big Three" (Fox, NBC, & CBS) dared to expose it. Go ahead; read about the Caught on Tape: Bribes, Public Corruption. The report says "Corruption is rampant across the nation, and is rising as the economy worsens. Police, politicians, top school officials and even judges stand accused of getting illegally paid to play. But not right here in Missouri, huh Dan? We must have some magic pixie-dust that keeps Missouri immune.The real question here, is do you want to establish a mechanism that would permit the good citizens of Missouri to see the corruption that exists in every other state in this country, or do you want to you want to continue to permit the judges to select their own replacements, and hide the complaints filed against them. –Sunshine is the enemy of most infections.

As to the role of those elected by the people: This great country was founded on the principle of elected representation. Their role, in all parts of our government, was deemed necessary to protect the interest of the people. Our federal judiciary was created, and continues to be modified, by those elected by the people. (Judiciary Acts of 1789, 1801, 1802, 1875, and 1925. –I may have missed one or two.) The biggest mistake the voters of Missouri have made, was to let the Judiciary become so independent, that accountability was rendered non-existent.

Dan, like most attorneys (at least as it appears) would like to continue to have a judiciary that is independent, but void of accountability. Who handles complaints about attorneys that violate the code of ethics? –Answer: Other attorneys. Who dominates the commission that addresses complaints filed against judges? Answer: Judges and attorneys. Who would have their profession be seen in an unfavorable light, if unethical judges and attorneys were to be exposed? Answer: Judges and attorneys.

Who suffers from the actions of unethical judges and attorneys? Answer: The unsuspecting litigants who appear before them or hire them to protect their interests. Not all attorneys are bad people. Most just turn a blind-eye to the unethical actions of those who surround them. They learned that in order to get along, you must go along. -It's not even a conscious effort.)Recently, Judge Callahan, of Cole County, declared that former candidate for Missouri Governor, Kenny Hulshof “lied to the jury". Hulshof made false statements of material fact to a tribunal, in violation of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-3.3. Did Dan, or the Missouri Bar Association, or any other attorney of this state express any outrage? –Hell No! (They’re too busy protecting the appearance of their profession to consciously acknowledge such a miscarriage of justice.) –An innocent man spent 15 years of his life in prison, because an attorney lied, and those same attorneys, who remain silent, want us to believe that they’re watching out for our interest. -It's time to tell them that they're not doing a good enough job.And finally, Dan, as to my claims of usurpation of power, I’ll grant you an easy way out: If our government has no power, not granted to it by the people, via the Constitution; Please demonstrate where a Circuit Court Judge, in Missouri, has been granted the power to invalidate law or for that matter, to permanently enjoin in a declaratory action.
If you want to claim that such a power/authority exists, the burden is on you to establish the source of that power…and you can’t.

4/24/2009 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woah, Dan, you got yourself a nutcase on your hands.

4/24/2009 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, Anonymous 2:19, I hope you're right. I hope Mr. Byrne is a "nutcase", because if he isn't, we're all in big trouble.

If what he says about Hutcherson and Hulshof are true, we live in a very scary state.

Would Hulshof still be permitted to practice law? I heard that he joined some big firm.

I'll give this to Mr. Byrne, he supports his claims extremely well. From what he has presented the door for courruption has been left wide open. The comments by Dan and Sophie are not supported by anything but their own beliefs. They have a motive to hold those beliefs.

I may be wrong, but don't attorneys have a pretty bad reputation?

4/24/2009 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Jim Byrne said...

"Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."- spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Anon 2:19 -bold statement. How long did you have to think to come up with such a response?

Anon 3:50 -Thanks for your support.

I don't expect Dan to concede. I don't expect him to learn anything from me. I just present what I know, and hope some will learn something they didn't know.

“Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix.” –Harry S. Truman

4/24/2009 4:47 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 2:19 - no, Jim's not really what I would call a nutcase. I do think he gets warped when somebody disagrees with his conspiracy theory, and he does not have the intellectual discipline to stick with the discussion (hence all the stuff about Funkhouser and the Governor of Michigan), but he's not a total nutcase.

Anonymous 3:50 - no, we're not in big trouble, and the fact you have been misled into thinking that is a problem with Jim's histrionic style. What, pray tell, does the Hushof red herring have to do with judicial selection? Does the Hulshof red herring even make any sense? If it's all one grand conspiracy for lawyers and judges to be tyrannical, why would Hulshof lie to a judge, and why would a judge criticize a fellow member of this cozy bar association? And, again, why the hell does this help Jim's argument that we ought to have the Senate involved in choosing judges?

As for Judge Hutcherson, I kind of agree with Jim, but have no idea why it is relevant to the discussion. Judge Hutcherson lost his retention election, proving the point that retention elections work, despite Jim's prior argument that they don't. I agree he should not get assigned to cases as a senior judge, but that is not an issue anyone is talking about.

I don't practice law anymore, and I have no motive other than supporting the best interests of Missouri citizens. Find me anyone who has criticized the Missouri Bar for their foolish out-of-state boondoggles before you claim that I'm somehow in cahoots with the imaginary conspiracy Jim is yakking about, okay?

As for Jim - nice quotation, and it's reassuring that you're quoting from something other than Heinlein. Good quotation.

4/24/2009 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, Jim Byrne may or may not be a nutcase, but you are way too gentle with him. He tries to personally attack you every which way, while you offer to post a link to his webpage. He compares Judge Breckenridge to Jeffrey Dalmer (sic) and you don't even smack him around for it. He dredges up a mistake you made about the governor of Michigan, but doesn't point out that you admitted your error and thanked the person who corrected you immediately. Then he implies you're too stubborn to concede when you're wrong.

I enjoy the blog, but sometimes I wish you would stand up against the assholes a little more.

4/24/2009 5:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

ha - sorry to be a disappointment. I've developed a pretty thick skin for people who would rather attack me than my ideas. By the time we're down to the 10th comment on a Missouri Plan thread, I figure it's me, Jim, and a couple people who are smart enough to pay attention to the arguments.

Life's too short to get mad at people like Jim. He really believes this stuff, and it means a lot to him. He really believes that a judge in Cole County is in charge of some conspiracy or something - I have a begrudging admiration for his tilting at windmills, even if they are illusory. It bothers me to see him attack a system I believe in, though I don't think he is clever enough to intended the Dalmer (sic) comparison.

4/24/2009 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Jim Byrne said...


Let's clear up a few things.

1. To start with; I didn’t bring up my claim of usurpation –You did Dan. Further, I have never stated that the unconstitutional actions taking place in Cole County are a conspiracy. (That's your fantasy) The actions, mainly on the part of judges of Cole County, are the result of ignorance.- A belief that has been passed down for about 60 years. Recognizing the truth would mean giving up an unconstitutionally acquired power.

Tell us Dan; do you think the Cole County Judges have the authority to invalidate federal law too? And do they invalidate it for just Missouri, or does their jurisdiction and controlling authority encompass the entire country?

I don’t know why I bother asking. You can’t point to the source of the claimed power, so you just avoid it.

2. Hulshof is relevant, as it demonstrates that members of the bar will turn a blind eye to wrongdoing among their fold.

3. Hutcherson: "I agree he should not get assigned to cases as a senior judge, but that is not an issue anyone is talking about." -And it never has been talked about. Why not? Who cares…it’s just other people’s lives and property that is put at risk.

4. "I don't practice law anymore, and I have no motive other than supporting the best interests of Missouri citizens".

You don't need to be practicing law in order have an interest in protecting the public's perception of the profession. Or doesn't that law degree mean anything to you?

How good does it look when the public's respect for the profession deteriorates? -You do have an interest, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

5. "As for Judge Hutcherson, I kind of agree with Jim, but have no idea why it is relevant to the discussion." -I don't either Dan. I can't see how a judge, selected under the Missouri Plan, then removed by the voters, and then being assigned by the Missouri Supreme Court in 13 subsequent counties could possibly be relevant.

6. "Find me anyone who has criticized the Missouri Bar for their foolish out-of-state boondoggles" -The only reason you criticized them is jealousy. When you were a member of the Board of Governors, you didn’t get to go on any great trips. -Their trip to the Bahamas didn't cost the taxpayers any money. It was paid for out of the attorney's bar dues. -and you're not an attorney.

4/24/2009 7:10 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Give them hell Jim; Attorneys have to be the lowest form of life on the face of this planet. There are deals made behind the scenes that do not have the people’s best interest at heart and everyone knows it. The bottom line for attorneys is just that, the bottom line, money, it is their GOD and I believe wholeheartedly that they do cover up for each other. Anyone who does not believe that the entire system needs to be overhauled is an idiot. I wonder what would happen if the "top secret" documents were made public. If there is nothing to hide then why are they secret? If the general public just knew half of the corrupt actions of the judicial members there would be a revolt.
Keep up the great work Jim!!!

4/25/2009 9:06 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Jeff - welcome to the conversation. I would send you a copy of the secret papers, but that would ruin all the fun of running the conspiracy.

Jim - I'll follow your numbers.

1. I believe a Cole County circuit court judge does have the power to find that a law violates the US Constitution. The impact of that ruling would not be to invalidate the law across the country, though.

2. Wow, that is a strange standard to use in judging relevance for whether Senators ought to inject themselves into judicial selection. I think you might want to refine it a little. In any case, I suspect that the matter is being looked into by the OCDC, though I don't know that for a fact, because they do keep their process confidential, for reasons both good and bad. Now, before you go off on that little tangent, allow me to point out that it is a completely different topic, and not one included in the bill I'm discussing.

3. The assignment of Hutcherson is not really that huge of a deal. If he gets assigned to your case, you can file for a change of judge. If it's a simple matter, and you don't mind dealing with a judge who was cranky and erratic back in the 80s but may, for all I know, have changed in the ensuing years, then you can let him handle your case. Either way, the bill being discussed does not say anything about Hutcherson. Nada. If you want to write a post about the cases handled by Hutcherson, I'll be happy to give you some tips in starting up your own blog. But it has nothing to do with the bill being proposed, does it?

4. Alright, sure, I have a loyal citizen's interest in upholding a system I know a fair amount about and I respect. And, yes, I hate to see the system I respect subjected to inaccurate and ill-informed attacks. So sue me.

5. Back to Judge Hutcherson again?? Please go back to response #3.

6. I didn't go on any nice trips while a member of the Mo BOG? I hope my friends who are familiar with my bar career did not read that line with coffee in their mouths, or there will be ruined keyboards across the country. Wow. If you only knew . . . But, despite your unwitting hilarity, please acknowledge that you are shifting topics. You implied that I won't criticize the bar, and I pointed out that I did. I was right, you were wrong, and your vain attempt to change the topic won't work.

4/25/2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

I'll give this to Mr. Byrne, he supports his claims extremely well. From what he has presented the door for courruption has been left wide openSo, over 50 years ago the door to corruption was opened when the MO Bar came under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the evidence of corruption in the judicial selection process present by "whistleblower" is what? Your "extremely" is an abused adverb.

Mr. Byrne has his hobby horse that he rides through just about any conversation about the judicial system. Pay attention to causation and relevance. The post is about how we appoint judges. He reads sinister and corrupt intentions into the structure, but offers no examples of those intentions manifesting.

He's got one judge who was rejected by the voters under the non-partisan court plan who reappears as a senior judge in a county where judges are elected. The fact that he's no longer exposed to voters has to do with Senior Judge status, and nothing to do with the non-partisan court plan (which doesn't apply in Camden County). Hell, if you want to fix that problem, seems like it would be pretty easy to legislate that a judge rejected by voters under the plan would not be eligible for senior judge status.

Mr. Byrne has a far ranging vision of corruption and illegitimacy that is not supported by any facts. And his agitation on this subject makes it more difficult to have an honest conversation. He's a useful idiot for the partisans who want our judges to be politically accountable to powerful interests. These people want judges to be bought and paid for just like congressmen. The non-partisan court plan isn't perfect, but it's better than that system.

That's what this comes down to. Do you want judges basing decisions on political fears or on the law?

4/25/2009 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I am pretty much agree with the way we select judges. However, there is no doubt that (1) there needs to be more transparency; (2) the plaintiffs' bar has too much control over the process. (I am a lawyer and I used to be on the defense side; I now spend 75% of my time on the plaintiffs' side. I am also a Republican, in case it is relevant to anyone reading this.) Further, most of the Republicans in the General Assembly want to go entirely too far on this. It makes some sense to take a close look at our system. There is nothing wrong wlooking and the plaintiffs' bar (supported by the Missouri Bar on this issue) goes off the deep end when anyone wants to even discuss it. (I don't like the MoBar--which all MO lawyers must belong to--jumping in on policital issues like this.)

I don't think it is accurate to call it the "Non-Partisan Court Plan." There is partisanship throughout the process. Anyone who is trying to be a judge knows that you need to play the political game. When a nominating commission is controlled by the plaintiffs' bar (most are), the panel of 3 they submit is often designed so that the Governor will reject the two that the commission doesn't want. I could go on and on about the policital/partisan nature of this--and Dan, you know full well that this is true.

With that said, we don't need to dismantle the system. Electing judges would be a bad idea, in my view. I practice at times in rural counties and I have seen how the judges pander to the electorate (instead of doing the right thing). No system is perfect. My take is that the GOP needs to stop the rabid-dog approach to this. At the same time, the other side needs to acknowledge that a careful examination of the system is healthy. If nothing else, more Missourians are aware of how this works than before.

4/26/2009 10:26 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well stated, Anonymous. At this point in time, those of us who I will term "preservationists" are defensive about any attempt to tinker with the Missouri Plan. I have absolutely no trust in the good faith of the Republicans like James Harris on this point. AND, the proposals they come up with are ALWAYS designed to increase the influence of politicians and political consultants - like HJR 10 would.

4/26/2009 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the defensive nature. However, someone needs to propose some SENSIBLE tweaks to the system. I would agree that the current system is better than what the Republicans are proposing, no doubt. But that doesn't mean that we must accept a system that is a B-...we should try to make it better. The first step would be to stop calling the the "Non-Partisan Court Plan." If you are a Republican and want to be a judge right now, you have no chance with Nixon as Governor. When Blunt was in, there were panels that didn't include any Republicans...and the Governor resisted the nominating commissions' attempts to force his hand. Bad practices like this result in over-the-top reactions like what is going on in the General Assembly.

4/26/2009 11:58 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry if I wasn't clear, anonymous. I agree with most of what you wrote.

I don't recall any all-democratic panels going to the governor, though I could be mistaken.

4/26/2009 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Jim Byrne said...


Getting you to see the flaws in our judicial system is like getting a parent to see the flaws of their child.

Do you think it was right for the Missouri Supreme Court to make the Missouri Bar Association a Committee of the Supreme Court just four years after the voters approved a plan for the selection of judges, when the voter approved plan had the Bar Association have an integral role as a separate entity? Please justify your reasoning.

Do you really think it is right for a branch of our government that is supposed to lack force and will, and sit only in judgment, to have a 28,000 member army with an associated multi-million dollar a year purse for them to spend on political campaigns?

Do you think it is right for the CJ of the Missouri Supreme Court to appear in political ads?

Would it be proper for other judges in this state to appear in ads that support an opposing view?

I thought you didn't want our judges to be involved in politics. How do you define politics?

As for me having a "hobby horse that he rides through just about any conversation about the judicial system"; Who would you have present an opposing viewpoint? Who do you know, that is a disinterested party, that knows more about the history of our judiciary than I do? -Isn't it customary to have a "disinterested party" provide testimony, than someone who has something to gain or something to protect? -You can't tell me that you have no interest in protecting the apppearance of your profession.

Tell me; why do cities, that have never had a child fall through a manhole, require manhole covers on their sewer system? --Further, if nobody reports that a child fell thru the manhole, did it not happen? If the sewer company was the only entity that would know about it, and disclosing such would cost the sewer company money, do you think they would be likely to disclose it? --I'm sure all the attorneys at the cigarette companies made sure they disclosed the dangers of smoking.

4/27/2009 11:51 AM  

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