Judges Should Be Good Judges

That’s the kind of insights you’ll get from the latest questionnaires, available here.

I only have two points.

First, I think Sue Bell Cobb went to the Troy King school of campaigning. Why do I say that? Because she says a vote for her is a vote for executions, lots of ’em:

I am the only candidate in the race who has sentenced thousands of criminals to jail kept hundreds of inmates on death row, and spent years working for reforms in our system of juvenile justice.

She’s also quite proud of role as a laborer in the assembly line also known as the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals (Alacrap):

In 1994, I became the first woman elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.  I was the only Democrat to run statewide in 2000 who won.  During my 11 1/2 years I have ruled on 25,000 cases.  The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has one of the highest caseloads per judge in the nation and is noted nationally for having one of the highest disposition rates.

Did you catch that? Alacrap has “[1] one of the highest caseloads per judge in the nation and [2] is noted nationally for having one of the highest disposition rates.” So you have more cases than anyone else AND you roll them out faster than anyone else? Is that because you guys are just that much smarter than all the other courts? Or because you cut corners – like reading the briefs – before rendering a decision? 

SBC aside, point two is that I really don’t know if there is a good way to do these questionnaires.

You can use the Christian Coalition method, and ask specific yes or no questions like “Do you still worship Satan?” But any answer to the narrow questions could misrepresent the candidate’s views. Or even be used to intentionally misrepresent the Democrat’s candidate’s views.

Questionnaires like this one, though, aren’t much better at informing the voters. The open ended questions invite vague self-serving responses. For instance, number three asks “What is your judicial philosophy?” Every candidate, predictably, responds with some combination of “apply the law” “be fair” “no agenda.” Great. Thanks.  It’s like when the sideline reporter asks the coach what his team needs to do to win: “run the ball” “no turnovers” “execute.” Fantastic, wonderful glittering generalities, but how about some specifics?

What I’d like to do is make available on the internets a collection of each judge’s writings. Click their picture and you get the table of contents. Then you can decide for yourself how fair minded they are.

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8 Comments on “Judges Should Be Good Judges”

  1. Dystopos Says:

    Sounds good to me. What’s stopping you?

  2. jnn Says:

    Have you ever read Wilson v. State 830 So.2d 765? I can assure you that Judge Cobb spent a great deal of time discussing this case with other Judges to get them to go along with her opinion. Judge Cobb is anything but a rubber stamp on that court. As a criminal defense attorney, I will be sad to see her go from the Court of Criminal Appeals. I always expected that if she drew the case I might have a chance of the actual arguments being read rather than getting the heave hoe procedurally.

  3. Sara Says:

    wheeler, I would set a site up for you if you could get their writings together. That sounds like the best idea I’ve ever heard next to merit selection.

  4. Dan Says:

    Wheeler, that was actually me who wrote that, not Sara. Sharing a computer sucks sometimes. Feel free to edit it and remove this comment.

  5. wheeler Says:

    dan/sarah

    i do the same thing at home.

    jnn,

    i did not mean for my criticism of alacrap to single her out. that court just plain sucks. everyone on the defense side knows that those guys do not pick up the briefs asking who is right, they pick them up asking what they can do to, as you say, give the defense the heave hoe. the resulting ‘reasoning’ is often comical.

    also, i don’t mean to say these folks are evil. i think, as sbc hints, the real problem is too many cases and not enough judges. they just can’t spend the time needed to fairly decide the issues. and because they are elected, when they err, it is going to be on the side of the state.

    that said, i really wish she had come up with a better platform than “i try to keep people on death row.”

    dystopos and dan

    in addition to technical know how and time, the big issue is getting the cases. they don’t make them available for free on line. i have thought several times about making an issue of this. i don’t know anyone in a place of power who could get the ball rolling, but maybe someone i know might know someone. i really think making the decisions more widely available would benefit everybody.

  6. Dan Says:

    They aren’t available for free? That’s just dumb. Well, if you can get the files and can sort computer files into different folders, I can set up an automated system for you so you just have to put a pdf file (or whatever) into a folder and title it appropriately.

  7. wheeler Says:

    really? i’m going to look into it.


  8. […] Yesterday, I slammed the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, calling them an assembly line of affirmances. […]


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