First a tidbit about judicial elections. John Birrenbach may believe that all judges should be challenged at election time, but suggests no reason to replace any of them, let alone Judge Fetsch, whom he admits to knowing nothing about. And what would you ask these judges to say in a campaign, John? Their record - that is, their rulings - are public information unless sealed. And why aren't the challengers raising that record as reason to unseat them?
Charlie Swope suggests that maybe elections aren't all that great a way to select our judges. It IS a two-edged sword to go either way on this matter and some balance of selection plus accountability for judicial behavior and temperament should be in place. That's all for another day. Now, to this race. I appreciate Ms. Sifferle's willingness to plunge into this cesspool of political junkie-ism, but now that she's here, let us pose and posture a bit: This response from Ms. Sifferle is what I must characterize as double-speak. I must point out some substantial contradictions in her claims: 1. This challenger claims she refuses to campaign negatively, but obviously confuses candor with negativity. Further, she goes negative by implication while refusing to campaign negatively. She states she'd be better than Judge Fetsch and others want him replaced but tells us nothing about who they are and why they want him off the bench. This isn't negative? It's the worst kind of negative. Your pledge, Ms. Sifferle, is little more than a smokescreen behind which you can hide the differences between your qualifications and those of the judge you believe should be replaced by you. Give us reasons why you should replace Judge Fetsch. What would make you a "better" judge than Judge Fetsch has been? Who are those individuals and groups unhappy with Judge Fetsch? Why are they unhappy with him? What about the job he's doing that makes them unhappy? How can we know you're not aligned with those groups or prepared to advance their agenda if you don't name them and state their objections to the job Michael Fetsch is doing? It is NOT negative campaigning to state the job-connected reasons for unseating an incumbent whose record is public while yours is not, and what it is about that record you deem wrong or insufficient for his retention on the bench. His rulings? His judicial philosophy? His judicial temperament? His courtroom demeanor? His demeanor in chambers? Or is it really more personal? His wife? His kids? His voting record? What? Do you consider a personal prochoice position enough to unseat him? A prolife position? Now here's a statement that surely can't be construed as negative: "ŠI would like to improve on the way things are currently being done. I believe I am more approachable, articulate, down-to-earth, courteous, energetic, kind, and diplomatic than my opponentŠ" Aside from knowing flat-out that Mike Fetsch is as approachable, articulate, courteous, energetic, kind, and diplomatic a human being as I've ever known in my life, probably more so than most, please explain your reasons for stating this "nonnegative" assessment of Judge Fetsch. As for your Cannon (sic) 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the US Supreme Court essentially removed many of those restrictions on issue campaigning even though the code retain them, thanks to the ubiquitous challenger Gregory Wersal and the Republican Party's immoderate wing attempting to put the morality stances of sitting judges and candidates on the record. In fact, most challenges to sitting judges are, indeed, based on morality issues and any attempt to skirt those hidden agendas by hiding behind judicial canons is disingenuous at best, utter dishonest . The presumption had been that a judge's personal position on such issues should matter not at all when deciding cases, even though, as a practical matter, judicial interpretation (which is what the entire judiciary is all about) may flow in one direction or another as long as it conforms to law - and precedent. If one law conflicts with another, judges must resolve the conflict one way or the other. The so-called - and incorrectly named - partial birth abortion law has been struck down in two federal cases already because it conflicts with a Constitutional right of privacy between a doctor and his patient and doesn't provide for the procedure to preserve the health of the mother. If the canons of judicial conduct prohibited Ms. Sifferle from responding to the questions Minnesota Lawyer posed to judicial candidates, Minnesota Lawyer would not have posed the questions at all. That makes Ms. Sifferle's refusal to respond to them based on Canon 5 disingenuous and avoiding the truth of her candidacy. I also wonder whether groups and individuals unhappy with a sitting judge and who encourage candidates to run against them are trusting that the mere presence of of an opponent means that judge has done something to merit opposition (besides his possible political position) - like alcoholic behavior, abuse of his clerks, court staff and/or parties to cases, especially women and women lawyers. Absent any stated reason to unseat him, what specific issues will Ms. Sifferle cite as reason to throw Mike Fetsch off the bench. Andy Driscoll Summit Hill Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 09:43:22 -0700 (PDT) From: Patty Sifferle <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Thank you for your interest in my campaign for district court judge. My reasons for running are very simple. I feel I have a lot to offer the Ramsey County court system, and I believe I will be a better judge. I have pledged not to do any negative campaigning, and I will stick to that pledge. I have been approached by many individuals and groups who are not happy with the job that Michael Fetsch has been doing. I am not aligned or endorsed by any of these, nor do I intend to pursue any type of agenda on their behalf. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of negative campaigning that I could be doing but am choosing not to. I am running strictly on my merits to serve, and because I would like to improve on the way things are currently being done. I believe I am more approachable, articulate, down-to-earth, courteous, energetic, kind, and diplomatic than my opponent, and I will make an excellent judge for Ramsey County. I hope you will vote for me on November 2nd. To respond to Joelle, you are correct that I did not give complete answers to some of the issue-oriented questions presented by Minnesota Lawyer. This is because Cannon 5 of the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct places strict ethical restrictions on what judicial candidates may say and do. Candidates are not allowed to make any pleges or promises of any particular conduct they will undertake when in office. Candidates are also discouraged from speaking out on any disputed legal or political issues, particularly issues that may possibly come before them as judge. I believe the reasoning behind these rules is sound and promotes an impartial and independent judiciary. Voters should not be choosing candidates based on their views on disputed issues, because judges have no authority to champion those views when in office. Judges take an oath to uphold the law and constitution objectively, without regard to their personal beliefs or convictions. Speaking out on issues may m islead voters into believing that a judge will advocate for those positions when in office, which of course, an ethical judge cannot do. The idea is that judges should be chosen based not on their political views, but on their integrity, experience, and committment to justice. These principles were discussed at a recent Continuing Legal Education course I attended on judicial ethics. I might add that there were very few, if any, sitting judges in attendance. I ended up on this forum unintentionally when one of my supporters posted my information to the list. However, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this lively dialogue. I hope you will read more about me on my website at www.particiasifferle.org. ------ End of Forwarded Message _____________________________________________ To Join: St. Paul Issues Forum Rules Discussion Email: [EMAIL PROTECTED] _____________________________________________ NEW ADDRESS FOR LIST: [EMAIL PROTECTED] To subscribe, modify subscription, or get your password - visit: http://www.mnforum.org/mailman/listinfo/stpaul Archive Address: http://www.mnforum.org/mailman/private/stpaul/