No JAIL For Judges

Most of the news about South Dakota today focuses on the voters shooting down the proposed total abortion ban.

They also rejected J.A.I.L. for Judges. I’ve commented about the measure’s proponents, and their Alabama chapter, here.

JAIL was a really bad way to fix a really serious problem. The essence of the plan was subjecting judges to civil suits for their decisions.  That, 90% of South Dakotan voters realized, is a bad idea. However, this blogger makes some excellent points:

there are things to be learned from the election.

First and foremost, the judiciary needs to recognize there is a level of public uneasiness if not outright distrust. It needs to strive toward achieving more transparency. Education and openness are keys to helping kill viruses like JAIL.

Likewise, the judiciary and those of us who opposed JAIL can’t just ignore those voters who cast ballots for JAIL out of a sincere and true belief that change may be necessary. Anyone who thinks the system is infallible is either nuts or lying. I encourage those with concerns about openness or judicial oversight to not let the lunatic fringe sacrifice those issues on the JAIL altar of anti-government hatred. Have problems with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, its membership or how it operates? Don’t think there’s enough information to enable fully informed votes in judicial elections? Talk to your state legislators, the governor and the court system about ideas to improve the shortcomings you see. Believe a judge or attorney has acted improperly? File a complaint. In other words, use the system to improve the system. Don’t simply try to decimate it.

By the same token, JAIL opponents cannot shut the door on critics of judicial and political accountability. Politicians and the judiciary not only need to be open and responsive to legitimate concerns, they need to stand ready to work with critics to address deficiencies. There was plenty of unity in working to defeat JAIL. We need to stress working together with them to help improve our judiciary, our court system and our government. The citizens of South Dakota deserve no less.

Our new CJ – Sue Bell Cobb – has pledged to make the judicial complaint process more accessible. I think that is a good idea, one that deals with the problem without undermining the judiciary, and I will watch closely to see if she upholds her pledge.

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One Comment on “No JAIL For Judges”

  1. Shane Buczek Says:

    My family had a big proablem with a city judge in buffalo and put my dad and me in jail for nothing>>>>Would you like the story??


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