Minnesota coalition pushes for higher judicial standards

By KBJR News 1

October 24, 2013 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 10:09 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - It's the job of a Judge to hold people accountable for their actions, but who holds judges accountable for their own action and performance?

A statewide effort could put that control in the hands of the voters.

The Coalition for Impartial Justice says voters need to know they have choices when it comes to electing Judges across Minnesota.

The group says they'd do that by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

On Thursday, people came together at the DECC to hear from a panel of professionals, moderated by Iron Range Representative and Impartial Justice Act co-author, Carly Melin.

The discussion centered around the proposed Impartial Justice Act, which would require judges to be evaluated by a mandatory merit, retention elections and public performance evaluations.

Organizers say the proposal will give voters the tools they need to help elect the most qualified court judge.

"The reality is, you go to the ballot box, you turn over the ballot and no one has any idea who they're voting for and I think that's wrong. Furthermore, 90% of judges run unopposed and while we have a quality judiciary, occasionally you need to get rid of one bad apple. The reality is, we have no way to do that when over 90% of judges run unopposed," said Coalition for Impartial Justice President Sarah Walker.

Among Thursday's panelist was former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, who supports the proposal and says the act would give voters an upper hand when deciding who sits on the bench in the state.

The proposal first has to pass the Minnesota House and Senate before it heads to the voters.

Supporters expect the question to be on the ballot in 2014.

Jeremy Brickley
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