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Your Letters: Support the Impartial Justice Act

Did you know that 90 percent of Minnesota judges run for election unopposed? This gives voters a choice only 10 percent of the time. When a judge is unopposed, it only takes one vote to get re-elected. The Impartial Justice Act (HF 1666, SF 1465) would institute retention elections which give voters the ability to hold judges accountable 100 percent of the time. In other words, voters will be able to vote against an incumbent who is running unopposed.

Are you frustrated by the fact that little information is available about the qualifications of the incumbent judge or the candidates seeking to be elected judge? The Impartial Justice Act will institute a performance evaluation system, with results open to the public, which would give much needed information about how judges perform to voters.

Do you want judges to earn their position based on their abilities, not their political connections? The Impartial Justice Act will mandate Merit Selection which will require all candidates and incumbents to be interviewed by citizens and lawyers. The results of the interviews will be made public. The Impartial Justice Act doubles down on this system by limiting the governor's power to appoint judges to choosing only from the list of those who have been interviewed. Merit Selection ensures that judges qualified by ability, not politics, will be in our courtrooms.

The Impartial Justice Act provides three critical reforms to empower voters and restore the accountability of Minnesota's courts. It will strengthen our judicial system by expanding voters' power through retention elections, providing information through public performance evaluations, and ensuring quality on the bench through merit selection.

Looming powerful political forces pose a significant threat to voters who lack a meaningful voice. Only the Impartial Justice Act empowers voters while ensuring that Minnesota has competent judges. If you want to improve our courts, urge your legislators to make the Impartial Justice Act a top priority.

Paul F. Carlson