We previously reported on a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by a local chapter of the NAACP, alleging that the state’s current at-large voting system for state judges disadvantages minority groups. The plaintiffs are seeking to replace the current system with a system of five single-member districts, one of which would be drawn to include a majority of African-American and other minority groups among its residents.
A bench trial began in mid-March, and both parties rested their cases on Friday. The Daily Comet, a local Louisiana newspaper, has a good wrap-up of the dramatic testimony on the final day. The decision now rests with U.S. District Judge James Brady, who has instructed both sides to file post-trial briefs by June 8. A decision is expected by August.
Roy Moore, the Alabama judge best known for his position on placing the Ten Commandments inside state courthouses, abruptly resigned his position as Chief Justice yesterday in order to run for the United States Senate. Moore’s resignation was essentially a technicality; he was suspended from his judgeship last year for a variety of ethics violations, and has not served on the state supreme court for months.
Moore is seeking the Senate seat currently held on an interim basis by former state attorney general Luther Strange. Strange was appointed to the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions upon his confirmation as U.S. Attorney General. In yet another twist, Strange was appointed by then-Governor Robert Bentley, who resigned in scandal just weeks ago.
Beyond the head-spinning number of scandals and vacancies, Moore’s decision to enter the race highlights a sometimes-overlooked aspect of judicial interdependence: many judges begin their careers as legislators, and many legislators begin their careers as judges.
Continue reading “Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to run for U.S. Senate”
That escalated quickly.
In light of the North Carolina legislature’s proposal to reduce the size of the state court of appeals from 15 to 12, Judge Douglas McCollough resigned from the court yesterday. Judge McCullough was due to leave the court next month under the state’s mandatory retirement laws (he is nearing age 72), but chose to leave early so that Governor Roy Cooper could fill his position immediately.
And immediately he did. Fifteen minutes after Judge McCollough tendered his resignation, the governor nominated John Arrowood to fill the open seat.
Judge McCollough stated that he resigned now — before the legislation could be passed — to increase the likelihood that the court would maintain its current 15 member composition. “I didn’t want my legacy to be the elimination of the seat,” he said. But his decision to leave early, which emphasized the institutional health of the court, was still shrouded in political intrigue. Continue reading “North Carolina court struggle heats up”
Many workplaces have written and unwritten rules — dress codes, face time requirements, and informal norms about appropriate behavior. Courthouses are no different, and the most fundamental rule for judges is to always maintain the appearance of impartiality.
These rules are so well-engrained that it remains surprising when they are flaunted — as was the case last November when a judge in Ontario appeared on the bench wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Judge Bernd Zabel, a Canadian citizen and Donald Trump supporter, claimed that he was simply joking with his colleagues, who were predominantly supporters of Hillary Clinton.
Continue reading “The judicial workplace”