Question 1 on the Ballot: Judging the Judge

Chances are your only experience with the court system is watching a high profile case on T.V.

But that can be a disadvantage especially here in Nevada where a vote of the people puts judges in all levels of jurisdiction, from city--to--Supreme Court.

“I get lots of friends who call me and say I don't know who these judges are could you please recommend who I vote for, so its kind of a crap shoot,” says local defense attorney Scott Freeman.

Such a process, Freeman contends, can put unqualified judges on the bench.

Question 1 on the ballot would change all of that. Instead of a vote of the people, Supreme Court and district court judges would be appointed to the bench by the governor. He or she would get a list of candidates by a Judicial Selection Commission which has vetted those candidates.

Under Question 1 those appointed judges would serve and be retained after an independent evaluation by a judicial performance commission and then voter approval.

Those in favor of Question One say former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner supports the constitutional amendment. So does another woman who has had her share of experiences in district and family court.

“I wrote a bill co-authored a bill called the modified Missouri plan. This past session I lobbied for that bill explained the importance of why the bill was important to our state,”

That is the testimony of Alecia Biddison during the Darren Mack murder trial three years ago. Mack was convicted in Nevada of killing his wife and shooting at the judge handling their divorce. Biddison was Mack's girlfriend up to the time of the murder. Biddison, back then, commented on the concept of appointing judges as a witness for the prosecution.

Those who are against Question One say it takes away voters rights.

They say the system would be closed off as both the appointment and retention of judges would be dominated by attorneys in this state, such a system they say would not ensure judicial competence and integrity.

Freeman disagrees and counters Question One would be better than what we have.

“The entire process is transparent, what happens is you get highly qualified candidates,” says Freeman.

Question 1 has appeared on the ballot before, however in this case, because it passed the legislature twice, it only needs one vote by the people to change the constitution and the way judges serve on the bench.


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