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Judicial selection system is badly flawed

The recent editorial, “How to judge judges” (Nov. 20), misses several important points. First, we should question why bar associations are given such power in judicial appointments, especially in Baltimore. Second, we should ban judicial slates. I ran unsuccessfully for Baltimore City Circuit Court judge two years ago and received 30,000 votes. I ran based on my philosophy of improving social justice in our courts rather than as an attack on a member of the bench. Post-election, I also applied for appointment, and, to no surprise, got nowhere.

The bench is full of bar association-connected folks. Regardless of acumen, familiarity with court or trials, if you’ve played your cards right and sat on the right committee or donated to a certain campaign, a bar group is likely to pass your name on to the judicial commission. None of those folks even have to be local residents to vouch for you! Instead, advocacy groups, governmental offices and blind attorney surveys could better offer suggestions for the bench.

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Anti-democratic judicial slates allow current judges up for election to pool money and gang up on any challenger. They discourage individualized looks at candidates and drag weaker ones along. Slates allow judges to outspend any opponent by a mile.

I cannot remember The Sun endorsing a challenger. Much has been made of Judge Alfred Nance’s fallacies without calling out the racism and ignorance of the law from other judges appointed through the same faulty process. The integrity of the whole system is at stake with judges’ reputations, so we should try to fix the way they get there.

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Todd Oppenheim, Baltimore

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