This report from the American Justice Partnership is a striking look at liberal billionaire George Soros’ attempt to reshape our courts.
Kansas Converts from Missouri Plan to Federal Model, Reforms Move Forward in Oklahoma
Just last week, Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas signed legislation into law which would replace Kansas’ version of the Missouri Plan with a judicial selection system modeled on the one created in the U.S. Constitution. Under the new plan, the Governor would be able to make nominations for Court of Appeals vacancies with Senate approval.
Additionally, a resolution to adopt a similar plan for Oklahoma has been working its way through that state’s legislature, gaining Senate approval last month.
“I know that the bill changing the way Court of Appeals judges are chosen in Kansas is a welcome change for many in that state who are rightly concerned about allowing a special interest group to dominate the judicial selection process. I also applaud the Oklahoma Senate for taking action on a measure to adopt a similar change for their state. I hope that Missouri’s legislators will look to these developments as a sign that the time is right for our state to consider similar changes to our judicial selection system,” said James Harris of Better Courts for Missouri.
Chief Justice Teitelman Delivers Annual State of the Judiciary Address
This morning at 10:30 a.m., Chief Justice Richard Teitelman delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly.
“It is unfortunate that Chief Justice Teitelman did not use this opportunity to acknowledge the need for change. Transparency and accountability are the key to ensuring all Missourians are served effectively and equally by our courts, but judicial leaders continue to ignore the very real need to improve our judicial selection process to embrace these ideals,” said James Harris of Better Courts for Missouri. “There can be no denying the impact that trial attorney influence over the judicial selection system has had on our highest courts. Our judiciary has made a marked shift to the left in recent years, most recently illustrated by the decision to invalidate two decades of precedent in the process of striking down medical malpractice reform. Only by restoring public accountability to the judicial selection process can we hope to avoid future situations where judicial activism trumps common sense.”
Fixing Medical Malpractice Among Top Session Priorities
The Supreme Court’s decision to undo a significant part of the 2005 tort reform law, the cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, dealt a significant blow to our state’s legal climate. Describing the situation, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said the following to the Associated Press: “The judiciary, like a bunch of termites, has gone to work undermining that necessary tort reform. So we’re going to have to go back and do the heavy lifting all over again.”
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to reverse the damages during the upcoming legislative session by passing legislation which will restore protections against excessive damage awards and frivolous lawsuits. By quickly negating the Supreme Court’s decision and putting new protections into law – either via statute or constitutionally – we can help reverse most of the damage done to our medical system and prevent negative long-term impacts of this activist decision.
Senator Brad Lager and Representative Bill White have sponsored constitutional fixes for the issue, while Representative Eric Burlison has filed a bill which could help pave the way for a statutory fix.
Of course, the important thing to remember is that the Supreme Court’s medical malpractice decision is only a symptom of a larger affliction. To fully protect our tort laws from continued erosion, Missouri needs to make judicial selection reform a priority. Trial attorney control of the judicial selection process is at the root of our court’s shift to the left. Put simply, trial attorneys do not like policies like medical malpractice reform which make it harder to make millions of dollars from frivolous lawsuits, and they use their power over judicial selection to encourage the appointment of judges who agree with them.
We hope that you will take the time to call or e-mail your local legislators and tell them to support medical malpractice reform and changes to the judiciary that will help encourage public accountability and transparency. Session starts today, and a phone call or e-mail early in session will help encourage action during 2013.
Make your voice heard.