Friday, October 29, 2004

Judge Teitelman & Missouri Judicial Retention

In a typical year, the first time typical Missouri voters hear about the judicial retention elections is when they show up and see a list of judges on their ballot, with a question as to whether or not each should be retained in office. While the Missouri Bar produces a helpful pamphlet every election cycle with a profile of each judge up for a retention vote and the results of lawyer surveys on the judge, the judges do not campaign and normally attract little attention.

This year, however, the system is being manipulated by the "Christian" radical right. They have targeted the only Jewish member of the Missouri Supreme Court for ouster, and are engaging in a campaign of automated calls and postcards to spread lies about him, lies which he is powerless to respond to because judicial ethics prevent him talking about cases before him or participating in a political campaign.

I know Judge Teitelman well, and have known him for about 15 years. He is the sort of gentleman to send a handwritten note to congratulate you on good news, and he is the kind of friend who will call when he hears that something bad has happened to you. I have experienced both. He is legally blind, but has devoted his life to helping the poor, having served for many years as Executive Director of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. In 1998, Mel Carnahan appointed him to the Court of Appeals, and his hard work and common sense legal analysis won him an appointment to the Missouri Supreme Court in 2002.

Without getting into the tedious particulars of the accusations and why they are flat-out lies (the "moratorium" on the death penalty simply doesn't exist), suffice it to say that responsible lawyers of both parties are defending Judge Teitelman. This is an unprecedented, unfair and unjustified attack on a moderate judge who happens to be the first Jew appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Two of the individuals out front pushing for the ouster of Judge Teitelman are Phyllis Schlafly (now with the "Eagle Forum", and the Representative Rod Jetton, known for his juvenile temper tantrums in the General Assembly. I don't know either of these individuals personally, so I cannot say what is in their hearts, but their choice of a target may provide a hint.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't blame Christians for the unfair attack on Judge Teitelman. I appreciate your use of quotation marks when using the word Christian in referring to those who are trying to run him out of office.

I'm conservative and a Christian, but I am opposed to this attack on Judge Teitelman. Indeed, I expect most Christian lawyers who support an independent judiciary also oppose this attack.

That's why we need to get the word out (as you are doing here) when attacks are made on the Missouri non-partisan judicial selection system and when unfair attacks are made on individual judges.


10/29/2004 1:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

RM -

Agreed. These wingnuts are no more Christian than Osama bin Laden.

10/29/2004 2:13 PM  

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