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Judges and Election: Politics, Voting, and Controversy

Fort Collins attorney Erik Fischer, recently quoted by the local media, stated that judges "Blair and Gilmore have created a stronger scrutiny for all judges to be reviewed, ... All the judges up for retention will likely have at least a more comprehensive review than in any time in the recent past." This was in reference to questions he received in light of having been the public defender representing Tim Masters in what has become one of Fort Collins' most infamous cases. Typically, judges during election time do not face weary voting considerations and can dodge most of the politics.

This year, however, judges in the 8th Judicial District in Larimer County, Colorado, are being given more political limelight than they would otherwise like to receive, mostly thanks to their colleagues Blair and Gilmore who were recently censured by the Colorado Supreme Court. Some attorneys believe the scrutiny of judges up for retention, in particular the two mentioned, to be a good thing, while others disagree. Nevertheless, a commission has been established to review the performance of judges up for retention and it will take feedback during hearings from those members of the public who have been in a judge's courtroom for official reasons. Blair and Gilmore, consequently, happen to be two of seven judges in the Eighth Judicial District who are up for retention later this year.

There is an old saying that originates from Matthew 7:1-2 that appropriately fits the issues surrounding retention of judges Blair and Gilmore as well as those who have been censured: "Do not judge, lest ye be judged." The contextual meaning of this passage has been interpreted to suggest "not judging people hypocritically or arbitrarily according to human rules or opinions."  It fits well because despite the legal or policy reasons the review commission may rely on in their examination, the spirit of their review has a moral imperative that relates directly to hypocrisy, which is the crux of the matter. In other words, why ought we as a society allow judges to sit on any bench when their character and record show substantial moral infirmity?

 

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