Just as we thought we were through with the unremitting efforts to prevent reform of the Missouri Plan, here comes the new President of the Missouri Bar Association, Lynn Whaley Vogel, to echo the impassioned pleas of Skip Walther. See our comments below about Mr. Walther’s op-ed in our round 1 post. Mrs. Vogel has produced many articles and videos extolling the virtues of the Missouri Plan. You just might think the trial lawyers had some skin in this game. Their strident, one-sided arguments belong in the category ‘How dumb do they think we are?’
I refer to an op-ed by Mrs. Vogel of St. Louis in the Columbia Daily Tribune of March 20, 2012, “Judge Plan not broken in Missouri.” Two op-eds beating the exact same drum within three days – perhaps the Tribune is trying to tell us something? What’s next? Robocalls at dinnertime? Following the lead of her predecessors Mrs. Vogel claims that the Federal system – the governor appoints judges and the Senate accepts or rejects them – “injects politics into a nonpartisan process.” The Missouri Plan is not partisan in that there are no elections of Republicans or Democrats. But it is laughable to claim that in its present form it is not political. And what would make the Federal Plan partisan or necessarily poitical? Until recently the Federal system has worked well. And how can she claim with a straight face that there is no politics involved when the Governor is presented with three choices, one or two of whom are “poison pills,” forcing him to accept the preference of the Bar Association. “Allowing politicians to control who becomes a judge would be a mistake,” she avers. And allowing unelected and unaccountable trial attorneys to do the same is better? She then repeats Mr. Walther’s claim that retention elections make judges accountable. We don’t want to repeat our comments from our previous post about locking the barn after the horses are gone, but we will add this comment. Suppose a bad judge is not re-elected (an occurrence all too rare.) Wouldn’t a flawed system just name another judge equally bad? Our feeling is that the provision of retention elections is just a smokescreen hiding the rotten core of our present system.
See here for a short summary of the situation from outside the state and a few choice links.