Interesting item on the Dallas City Council's agenda this morning: "Judicial Nominating Commission." (It's Action Item No. 5, for those playing along at home.) City Attorney Tom Perkins is offering the council three alternative ways to fix the body that vets candidates for municipal judgeships. So ... uh ... why does it need fixing?
Oh, you just guess.
It's that wonderful single-member district city council thing. You remember: the one that brought us the recent Dallas City Hall federal corruption trial.
Some people on the city council want to rip up the existing city ordinance governing appointments to the judicial nominating commission in order to give individual council members more power to appoint people from their own districts. And since the judicial nominating commission has a whole lot to say about who gets appointed to a municipal judgeship, the end product would be -- tah-dah! -- single-member-district judges for each council member.
You know what? You ever get sent before a single-member-district pal-of-a-council-member judge, I would advise you, as your attorney, to just start drawing ballpoint pen tattoos on yourself in advance, because you are ... skuh-rewed.
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In order to facilitate this wonderful modernization of our system, the various proposals offered by Perkins would, among other things, remove input from the city's various and diverse bar associations -- input that is now required under the existing ordinance.
Who needs lawyers to help you pick judges when you've got city council members?
Another irony is that bar associations being dumped are mainly minority bar associations, so in this instance the single-member council system would actually trump diversity, rather than promoting it.
One proposal is that the city just trash the whole nominating commission and turn the job over directly to the city council. That might actually be the best one. That way we could be assured nothing will ever get done about any of it. Sometimes total inaction is better than any action at all.