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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jefferson On Judges

"The judges... should always be men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness and attention; their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man or body of men."

Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1776 (emphasis added).

The Judicial Branch must be independent of other branches of government, but not independent of the nation itself. It is rightly responsible to the people for irregular and censurable decisions, and judges should be appointed for limited terms with reappointments resulting from approved conduct.

"With us, all the branches of the government are elective by the people themselves, except the judiciary, of whose science and qualifications they are not competent judges. Yet, even in that department, we call in a jury of the people to decide all controverted matters of fact, because to that investigation they are entirely competent, leaving thus as little as possible, merely the law of the case, to the decision of the judges." --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:482

"It has been thought that the people are not competent electors of judges learned in the law. But I do not know that this is true, and, if doubtful, we should follow principle. In this, as in many other elections, they would be guided by reputation, which would not err oftener, perhaps, than the present mode of appointment." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:36

"Render the judiciary respectable by every means possible, to wit, firm tenure in office, competent salaries and reduction of their numbers." --Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1791. ME 8:277



Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be applied to the current ones running for judgeship in the coming months? At least one.

Anonymous said...

But that's not the new normal to be a judge in Wicomico County -- here 'tis:

1. Political connections - to get appointed.

2. Mucho money from family and local lawyers -- to survive the election.

3. Experience in court - as a defendant -- to match an opponents courtroom experience representing clients.

Anonymous said...

Ole Thomas Jefferson would have a $hit fit if he knew what was happening in todays law.