In a democracy like ours, should lawmakers be selected democratically? Not according to the Journal-World (“Court, politics,” Nov. 23), which wants some of our state’s most important lawmakers selected in a deeply undemocratic process that makes the votes of some residents count far more than the votes of others. The lawmakers in question are our state’s appellate court judges. Yes. Judges have routinely made law throughout our country’s history and even earlier, going back to England. This judge-made law, called the “common law,” has generally worked well and continues today to govern thousands of cases including those involving contracts, property rights and bodily injuries. Common law rules differ from state to state. States with more liberal judges tend to have more liberal common law, while states with more conservative judges tend to have more conservative common law. The political leanings of appellate judges, rather than trial judges, are especially important because appellate judges have much more power over the direction of the law. In short, the appellate judges of Kansas, like those of other states, are tremendously important lawmakers.
What is unusual about the lawmaking judges of Kansas is how they are selected. None of the other 49 states uses the system Kansas uses to pick its two appellate courts. And for good reason, because the Kansas system is a shockingly undemocratic way to select lawmakers. At the center of the Kansas system is the Supreme Court Nominating Commission; most of the members of this commission are picked in elections open to only 10,000 people, the members of the state bar. The remaining 2.8 million people in Kansas have no vote in these elections. This violates basic equality among citizens, the principle of one-person, one-vote. The current system elevates one small group and treats everyone else like second-class citizens. Kansas lawyers tend to be fine people but they’re not superheroes. They don’t deserve more power than lawyers have in any of the other 49 states. In a democracy, a lawyer’s vote should not be worth more than any other resident’s vote. So the problem is not that Kansas has a nominating commission but how that commission is selected. As Washburn law professor Jeffrey Jackson wrote, democratic legitimacy “would appear to favor a reduction in the influence of the state bar and its members over the nominating commission because they do not fit within the democratic process. Bar groups in Kansas claim that this violation of our democratic principles is the only way to get competent judges. But the bar provides no evidence that judges selected in lawyer-favoring systems are better than judges selected in the more open and democratic appointment systems used by a dozen other states. Kansas should follow those states’ lead so that our state’s courts can have democratic legitimacy as well as professional competence.
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California is the only state in the nation with independent professional judges dedicated to ruling on attorney discipline cases. The State Bar of California investigates complaints of attorney misconduct. If the State Bar determines that an attorney’s actions involve probable misconduct, formal charges are filed with the State Bar Court by the bar’s prosecutors (Office of Chief Trial Counsel). The independent State Bar Court hears the charges and has the power to recommend that the California Supreme Court suspend or disbar attorneys found to have committed acts of professional misconduct or convicted of serious crimes. For lesser offenses, public or private reprovals may be issued by the State Bar Court. Also, it can temporarily remove lawyers from the practice of law when they are deemed to pose a substantial threat of harm to clients or the public. Lawyers may seek review of State Bar Court decisions in the California Supreme Court. The State Bar Court conducts hearings and makes decisions and formal recommendations on disciplinary matters. Since 1989, the court has used full-time judges appointed by the California Supreme Court, legislature and governor. The court is divided into two departments — a Hearing Department and a Review Department, headed by a presiding judge. California attorneys who have allegedly violated the State Bar Act and/or the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Review Department is the appellate level of the State Bar Court, consisting of the presiding judge and two other review judges. All review judges are appointed by the Supreme Court.
The wedding is over. The bride and groom looked spectacular (dad and mom didn’t look so bad either); the wedding was a roaring success and the bride and groom are busy making final preparations for their honeymoon. Thanks to all who offered words of congratulations and encouragement. Prior to the weekend’s festivities, I had the opportunity to attend the first of two hearings on PERS retiree cases. These cases were heard before Judge Henry Kantor of the Multnomah County Circuit. I was able to attend the Arken case but had to miss the arguments in the Robinson case. My comments apply primarily to Arken. From the moment the Arken hearing started, it was clear we were in a different courtroom at a different time. PERS retirees plus assorted PERS staff attended to watch Greg Hartman and Aruna Masih square off against Joseph Malkin and Bill Gary representing the PERS Board and the non-state employers, respectively.
The Arken case appears to be deceptively simple. It relies on the language of ORS 238.715 (the collection statute), ORS 238.360 (the COLA statute) and the wording of the Supreme Court in the Strunk decision. All parties agree that its outcome will be based on a straightforward legal principle and nothing else. Neither the state nor the non-State employers agree with Mr. Hartman’s representation of the case. They’ve called his position preposterous, outrageous and a host of other things. From the beginning of the hearing, the Judge focused on “big picture” issues, leaving the smaller issues to the briefs themselves. The Judge was concerned how the “class” of retirees in Arken differed from the “class” of retirees covered by Robinson. Both “classes” cover the “window” retirees, but Robinson includes a group of retirees outside the “window”. The Judge posed hypotheticals to all the principal attorneys asking what their clients might do in the event that he (the judge) ruled for plaintiffs in one case and for defendants in the other. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
A plaintiff victory in either case would have the effect — at least for the time being — of stopping PERS from implementing its current recovery plan. What is different about the cases is who would pay for the costs of implementing the Court’s decision. COLA; section 14b expressly forbids PERS from collecting these costs from employers. On the other hand, if the plaintiffs win in Arken but not Robinson, it is anyone’s guess who will pay since the PERS Coalition expressly sued the employers as a class. I was heartened to hear Judge Kantor announce that he regarded the cases as legally separable, that he will issue separate decisions in Arken and Robinson, but he plans to issue them relatively quickly and simultaneously. The hope is that these decisions will come down before the end of the year. It is clear that the Judge is mindful of the upcoming legislative session and asked all the attorneys several times whether problems arising from these cases could be “fixed” by a subsequent legislature.
All the attorneys felt that the legislature could propose a fix, although Mr. Gary claimed that Hartman would be back in court the next day if the Legislature ever did anything to “fix” the system. It was good theatre, but not much else. My informants who stayed for the Robinson hearings said the theme didn’t change, although the defendant in Robinson is PERB, not the other employers. Again, Judge Kantor’s efforts focused on defining how the Robinson class differs from the Arken class and on how each party might respond to a split decision on the two cases. I’m not prone to be a legal optimist, especially knowing that these cases won’t be decided until the Supreme Court finally acts in a couple of years. That said, I was more comfortable with Judge Kantor’s line of questioning than I was with Lipscomb, Judge Brewer, or any of the SC justices. Only time will tell whether my comfort with Judge Kantor was merited.
Some 100 mass attendees mostly judiciary employees sang “The Impossible Dream” at a mass sponsored by Renato Corona’s supporters. It was reported that the Corona couple was seen wiping their tears, it was just not clear if the song made them cry or was it how they sang it? Anyway, for whatever its worth the Corona couple truly deserved to be nominated to a best acting award with the Famas except reality shows specifically one about jerks unlike tele-novela is not about acting so scratch that, LOL. Of course Mr. Corona & family will be the most sought after not because they are the media darling but theirs is the biggest scandal now that makes for good headlines. This is not my personal fight, this is the fight of the judiciary and democracy. ] is only for me, there is a simple solution. But this is not my personal fight. We will make known what is right under our Constitution. Ang problema sa ibang tao, hindi ko na sasabihin kung sino, akala nila magnanakaw ako tulad nila (The problem with my detractors is that they think I’m a thief like them). Eh di ilabas nila.
Kung mailalabas nila iyong properties ko ibibigay ko na lang sa kanila (So disclose it. …I will sign a deed of donation, Corona told reporters after the 7th day of Novena at the Supreme Court. 3. TCT No. N-97119 in the name of Ma. 4. TCT No. N-97120 in the name of Ma. 5. TCT No. N-97121 in the name of Ma. 6. TCT No. N-97122 in the name of Ma. 7. TCT No. N-97123 in the name of Ma. 8. TCT No. N-97123 in the name of Ma. 9. TCT No. N-97125 in the name of Ma. 10.TCT No. N-85804 in the name of Ma. 11. CCT No. 5582 in the name of Ma. 22. TCT No. 2093-P in the name Ma. 31. TCT No. N-239406 in the name of Constantino del Castillo et al. 37. TCT No. N-327732 in the name of Constantino T. Castillo III married to Ma. 44. TCT No. 84241 in the name of Ismael A. Mathay Jr. et al. If it is it appears to be a very lucrative position beating even some CEO’s of multi-national companies. It makes me wonder if people are really treating Corona seriously when he says whoever find his properties he will gladly sign a deed of donation. Unfortunately it is not as simple as deeding it for donation if the allegations are true, it will be confiscated by the state since it belongs to the people not for him to donate or give away.
Is there legal liability for the websites that post physician reviews and ratings? It would appear that risk is minimal as the sites are simply allowing patients to express their opinion about a certain doctor. Federal law permits entities to allow other people’s posts without having any liability for defamation or libel. So for the websites there is federal immunity for information coming from a third party, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that defends rights of free speech in the digital world. However, that does have limitations. As for the posting of anonymous comments, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that anonymity of speech is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Courts have also continually recognized that the right to speak anonymously extends to postings on the Internet. Facing a tough time in a court of law, some medical professionals may seek to get their name removed from a physician review site. But they likely won’t have much success there either. Ratings sites do not take down postings because a doctor asks or demands that it be done.
Ratings sites say doctors should view their sites as an opportunity to hear patients’ views about them. Doctors looking to boost their own ratings by posing as a patient – a practice called “astroturfing” – can face legal action because the procedure is illegal. 300,000 to the state in fines. Lifestyle Lift was also required to stop posting false reviews of its physicians. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. Some sites do give doctors recourse for unflattering reviews. Some allow doctors to respond to any and all ratings. Some also allow doctors to flag items of contention to have an independent review team investigate whether the information in the post is justified and should remain online. Doctors can also encourage patients with positive experiences to express their views on rating websites. Doctors’ views on the rating sites vary, with some believing the sites are a great tool for patient response and that negative comments and ratings are wake-up calls for improvements. Others have blasted the sites, calling them inappropriate and seek their elimination from the Internet.
On Friday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court in New Jersey overturned the trial court in a case involving the denial of a firearms permit and ordered the return of Justin Blasko’s firearms absent any new disqualifying events. They made their decision on Second Amendment grounds. Mr Blasko’s troubles started when his apartment’s building superintendent entered to fix his air conditioner and saw “assault weapons” along with other stuff including a four foot alligator. The super called police and they entered the apartment, seized his firearms, and issued him a summons for the alligator, a snake, and a leg-hold trap. They also filed a complaint that he had an illegal assault weapon. Blasko entered a Pre-Trial Intervention program and the charges were eventually all dismissed. Moreover, the state later acknowledged that the alleged “assault weapons” were not in fact assault weapons as covered by NJ law. Following the dismissal of the charges, Blasko requested his firearms back. The Superior Court in Passaic County denied Blasko’s request and ordered him to surrender his Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. They also permitted the State of New Jersey to sell his seized firearms and ammunition.