Total Transparency in the Judicial Appointment Process

Total Transparency in the Judicial Appointment Process

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Defeat Corruption started this petition to Governor Jay Inslee and

When a judge is elected, the process is transparent; however, when a judge is appointed, the process is not only top-secret, but all the documents pertaining to the process are destroyed. This needs to change.

The governor uses the opinions and ratings of several Bar Associations to decide who to appoint as judges in Washington State. There is no independent regulation or oversight of these privately-held and run committees and the process of rating a judicial candidate is suspect and secretive: potentially creating a situation where those who are responsible for getting the judges appointed are benefiting from these same judges' rulings.

The King County Bar Association (KCBA) states that when a potential judicial candidate wants to be rated for consideration of an upcoming judicial position, the KCBA reaches out to their exclusively-selected committee members and the FIRST 12 members to volunteer are privy to the judicial rating process of that potential judge. What the KCBA fails to explain is who makes those phone calls/contacts and what system is in place to assure that the same person isn't reaching out to their own friends first. Furthermore, because all documents are destroyed after the person is rated, there is no way to know if when that person becomes a judge whether the judge and lawyers who helped them get appointed are working together in courtrooms - creating an extreme conflict of interest.

The King County Bar Association states that it requires each potential candidate to give 80 personal references. These personal references are contacted for feedback on the judicial candidate. These personal references are also kept secret and information about them destroyed after the rating is issued. There is no way for the public to know if the judges are recusing themselves from working in a courtroom with these individuals who helped them get appointed - a potential conflict of interest.

More judges are appointed than elected by the people in Washington state. That means that a select few are exclusively deciding who the judiciary is in our state. This is not to be taken lightly and needs to be looked at with much scrutiny. 80% of the appeals court judges in Division I are appointed. 50% are appointed by Jay Inslee. More than 50% of the decisions that come through that court affect the State of Washington directly. The government that benefits from those decisions and the lawyers who are fighting in that court system are hand-picking their decision-makers. This is simply not right.

 

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