Many people are confused when they flip over their ballot to see a long list of judges, many of whom they have never heard of. Because judge races are non-partisan, meaning judges are not backed by a party, many people are not even aware of these races, how to research the various candidates, and the roles that judges play in our legal system. Because the races are not promoted by a party, it means that individuals need to do their own research to decide which candidate is best suited for the position, and in this case, which candidate will be the most impartial to their personal opinions and will provide a fair hearing to all constituents and cases that come before them. To not be surprised by who is on the ballot before you walk into the voting booth, view a sample ballot at the MN Secretary of State website which can be found at MnVotes.org.
For background on this article, we were provided with a speech by the MN Supreme Court Justice Alan Page given at the National Press Club back in 2001. It was startling to read that the issues of judge-impartiality and political backing were an issue two decades ago. His speech focused on “the interplay between judicial elections, judicial independence, and the public’s trust in the judiciary.” We also referenced a research paper on the ‘History of Minnesota’s Judicial Elections’ by Jesse Sater, published in Volume 10, Issue 1 of the University of St. Thomas Law Journal.
Justice Page begins his speech by declaring his belief that “Judicial power comes from the people’s trust and confidence in what judges do and the way they do it.” [Read more…]