Practicing Lawyers Should Be on Governor’s Council [OPINION]
The best way to evaluate judges in Massachusetts is through the Governor's Council that contains at least some practicing attorneys elected to it.
The Boston Herald ran an excellent article this week by Joe Battenfeld on the members of the Governor's Council who are currently practicing law in front of people they confirmed to be judges. The article brought up good points, and named names, too. It was excellent journalism.
Investigative journalism is important to our society. It is also why I'm not concerned about the corruption going unfound in our courts when it exists. The integrity of most people and the punishment if caught, combined with public and private investigative oversight, limits corruption.
The citizens of Massachusetts vote every two years for the members of the Governor's Council. The members have a number of responsibilities, including the ratification of the men and women appointed by the Governor to be judges and magistrates. The judicial appointments, except for the Worker's Industrial Accident Board, are for life.
We need people who know the judges professionally and how they do or don't function in a courtroom. Among the best people to evaluate judicial candidates are the lawyers that work with them.
Of course, there is potential for favoritism by court staff members for people politically connected. That is a potential that exists in all government interactions. The difference is, in court, most of the actions are public and leave a paper trail. It is relatively easy for an investigator or a journalist to track down and document a pattern of favoritism there.
Also, judges are appointed for life and don't need to do favors once they are on the bench. There is an old joke: Want to lose a political supporter? Help make them a judge, because you will never hear from them again.
There are lots of people who have regular or potential dealings with the courts, such as police officers, and we wouldn't want to eliminate their ability to serve on the Governor's Council and give input on judicial nominees. Stopping practicing attorneys from serving would be a disservice to the people, and lessen the quality of our judges in time.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.