Judicial reform group: Electing judges is a bad idea

    The Supreme Court ruled this week that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions create the appearance of bias. Pennsylvania is one of only 6 states where all judges are elected. But legislation introduced recently in Harrisburg aims to change that.

    The Supreme Court ruled this week that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions create the appearance of bias. Pennsylvania is one of only 6 states where all judges are elected. But legislation introduced recently in Harrisburg aims to change that.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090609spjudges.mp3]

    With multimillion-dollar judicial election campaigns on the rise, court reformers in Pennsylvania are hoping the decision will have impact statewide.

    Shira Goodman is with Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, which advocates for merit selection over elections. She says its important to get judges out of the business of fund raising.

    Goodman: Because there’s not out right restrictions, and because traditionally there’s kind of a small group who care about judicial elections, traditionally the donors have been lawyers, law firms, frequently in the appellate courts.

    The legislation would create a nonpartisan commission to screen judicial candidates, which would then be chosen by the Governor.

    Some say the commission itself would be biased unless care is taken to make sure the members come from diverse backgrounds.

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