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Judicial Selection

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Our History . . .

What began as a local effort by a group of citizens to fight political manipulation and dishonesty in local judicial elections has become the impetus for a national organization.  


In 1989, the Ninth Judicial Committee, a grass-roots group in the Ninth Judicial District of New York State, just north of New York City, was formed to do something about a written Deal between the Democratic and Republican parties trading seven judgeships over a three-year period. By the Deal, the parties agreed to “cross-endorse” the same judicial candidates, effectively disenfranchising voters of their constitutional right of election -- the major party slates being identical.


The Deal, which also provided for contracted-for resignations to create new judicial vacancies and a split of patronage, was thereafter implemented at judicial nominating conventions that violated the most basic Election Law safeguards. The Governor, the State Board of Elections, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, and bar associations refused to investigate.


Consequently, in 1990, the Ninth Judicial Committee spearheaded litigation to challenge the Deal and the judicial nominating conventions. The litigation was dumped by the courts in decisions which violated fundamental legal standards and falsified the factual record.  


In the ensuing years, the Ninth Judicial Committee worked tirelessly to expose the political corruption of judicial elections in New York, as well as of the so-called “merit selection” of judges to New York’s highest court. In that connection, in 1993, we twice testified before the State Senate Judiciary Committee.


The Ninth Judicial Committee also undertook a ground-breaking six-month investigation of the federal judicial nominations process. Our fully-documented study, submitted to the U.S. Senate in 1992, established the deficiencies of the screening process upon which the President makes his nominations of our lifetime federal judges. In 1993, we presented that study and other documentary evidence to the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal to refute its methodologically-flawed report as to the adequacy of existing mechanisms for disciplining federal judges.


By 1993, the Ninth Judicial Committee, having far transcended its local origins, inspired the formation of the Center for Judicial Accountability (CJA), which became formally incorporated in 1994.


CJA’s activities have built upon and expanded the Ninth Judicial Committee’s work, further documenting the political manipulation of judicial selection on local, state, and federal levels, and the dysfunction and corruption of the disciplinary mechanisms. Based upon analysis and study of our ever-growing bank of empirical data, we have testified and made evidentiary presentations as to the need for major reform.  


On the federal level, we testified before the Long Range Planning Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference in 1994; before the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts in 1995; and, in 1996, presented evidence to the U.S. Senate that its Judiciary Committee conceals the unfitness of the judicial nominees it is confirming by refusing to investigate credible evidence, then holding sham confirmation hearings at which the public is not permitted to testify. Over the years, we have filed and collected copies of filed judicial misconduct complaints against federal judges, documenting how the federal judiciary, which controls the disciplinary mechanism against federal judges, uses it to cover up, rather than investigate, legitimate complaints. In 1998, we testified before the Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals and made a formal presentation to the House Judiciary Committee to remove the disciplining of federal judges from the federal judiciary, based on evidentiary proof that the federal judiciary has used the confidentiality of its procedures to conceal its unlawful dismissals, without investigation, of legitimate misconduct complaints against federal judges.


CJA’s activities in New York State are no less extensive and far-reaching. They include two lawsuits against the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 1995 and 1999, challenging it with subverting its statutory duty to investigate legitimate judicial misconduct complaints. Both lawsuits were dumped by the courts in dishonest and fraudulent decisions -- a modus operandi of judges in cases involving judicial self-interest.  



Our Future . . .


Depends on you! We invite you to become a member of CJA and help in establishing a network of activism in all 50 states. Building an effective organization is neither easy nor cheap.


All donations to CJA – which are essential if our citizens’ organization is to grow and thrive -- are tax-deductible under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

About CJA

Bringing the Justice System To Justice . .

Judicial Accountability. Why shouldn't judges, like everyone else in a democracy, be responsible for their incompetence and deliberate misdeeds? Why should judges be allowed to run their courtrooms as their own private fiefdoms, free to abuse litigants and lawyers who come before them?

We are building a national organization focused on the problem of bad judges -- judges who are incompetent, abusive, and dishonest. By dishonesty, we mean judges who knowingly disregard clear and controlling law and who write decisions which fabricate or deliberately omit critical facts.

These judges destroy people's lives, families, and businesses and, for ulterior reasons, torpedo important cases affecting the public.

The financial cost of appealing a judge's bad decision puts appeal out of reach for the average citizen. Yet those who make the financial sacrifice and do appeal often meet with the same realities on the appellate court level as in the lower court. Even where appellate courts reverse a lower court's blatantly erroneous decision, there is no personal cost to the judge for his judicial malpractice -- but only to the litigants, who have been wronged, and to the system.

Incompetent, abusive, and corrupt judges create havoc at the trial level and overwhelm the system with otherwise needless appeals. This puts the courts in crisis and is extremely costly to taxpayers.

Obviously, improving the way we choose judges is crucial. Whether by election or appointment, there must be safeguards to ensure that only persons of the highest competence, integrity, and judicial temperament become our judges.

Yet, the public interest in a quality judiciary has been thwarted by politicians, who view our third branch of government as a pool for patronage. Judicial qualifications are often secondary to the political interests served by the judicial nomination being made.

Because the judicial selection and disciplinary processes take place behind closed doors, political interests have been able to co-opt them. This has enabled unqualified judicial candidates to gain office and, thereafter, to stay in office, despite demonstrated on-the-job unfitness.

Shamefully, public officials, government agencies responsible for judicial oversight, and established organizations of the bar have failed in their duty to protect against the corrosion of our courts. They have not only looked the other way, but have actively participated in a "cover-up". The same is true of the media, which is largely ill-informed, insensitive, and self-interested on these issues.

It is, therefore, We, the People, who must take action to protect ourselves, our judicial system, and our democratic values.




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