Saturday, October 29, 2005

State Supreme Court Justices Russell Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman

I received an interesting e-mail from Jim Panyard, a Republican candidate for Governor. He points outs many things that are wrong with the way we pick judges in Pennsylvania and how people can register their outrage over the recent pay raise. He even quotes Vito Corleone to support his argument! Anyone who uses the Godfather to make a political point is all right by me. It is such a well reasoned position, I have to share it with you:

The Panyard Report #2 From: James Panyard

Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 10:59 AM

Subject: The Panyard Report#2


By Jim Panyard

Pennsylvania's judicial elections have, based on voter turnouts, meant very little to the state's voters. Traditionally a turnout of 12 to 15 percent of registered voters, or about 6 or 7 percent of those over the age of 18, has determined who will dispense truth and justice from state benches.

The system for selecting judges is deeply flawed. It politicizes those who are supposed to dispense "blind justice" and objectively interpret state law.

When judges are beholden to the money and voter turnout mustered by special interest groups such as labor unions, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers, state lawmakers and political parties, they cease to be "citizens above suspicion."

Controversial rulings by Pennsylvania courts, up to and including the state Supreme Court, are always colored by a deep suspicion that someone or some group "pulled some strings." Those suspicions are warranted.

Lawyers seeking to become judges aren't picked by an Act of God. They have been politically active, party loyalists, significant contributors to Republican or Democrat candidates and parties and have shown a willingness to, if "not rock the boat", then to at least "play ball" and be aware of "how the system works."

One is reminded of the classic film, "The Godfather." Don Vito Corleone tells a subject he has just granted a favor, "Perhaps, some time in the future, and that time may never come, I will call upon you for a favor."

Imagine a lawyer, desirous of becoming a judge, asking a regional or statewide political Don for his favor and help in securing election to a judgeship. The words may not be the same as those of Don Vito, but do you imagine the message is any different?

This November 8 Pennsylvanians will again have the opportunity to select judges, but the scene is slightly different than the typical "off year", low turnout, apathetic voter judicial election.

Two state Supreme Court Justices, Russell Nigro, a Democrat and Sandra Newman, a Republican, must stand for "retention" to secure another 10-year term on the state's high court. They are both from the Philadelphia region of the state.

What makes this year's election different is that taxpayers are still enraged about the mammoth, unconstitutional pay grabs for the governor, state lawmakers - and state judges - that was passed on July 7th, at 2 a.m.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Ralph Cappy, who, fortunately for Ralph, is not standing for retention this year, was the original designer of the pay hikes ranging from 16 to 54 percent.

That makes Nigro and Newman potential targets of voter wrath on Nov. 8. The Republican Party that carried the pay raises through the state House and Senate, both of which it controls, has already said it will put up significant dollars to defend Newman. In all likelihood, the Democrats will do the same for Nigro.

On the other side of the financially imbalanced scale are angry taxpayers who may or may not get up off their duffs on Nov. 8 to sacrifice Newman and Nigro as symbols of their disgust with "business as usual in Harrisburg."

There is no well funded, statewide organized campaign to set the upheaval in motion. Just a glowing hope that people still care enough about their freedom to use what is left of it in the voting booth

(Mr. Panyard is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania.)


Anonymous said...

Nice blog, who doesn't like baseball and local politics, even if it is just for comic relief? I don't have time to read the article carefully but I remember watching Jim Paynard announce his candidacy on TV in front of what appeared to be like six maybe seven people there some of whom where press others asleep. He spoke of this business as usual and sounded more like a conspiracy theorist than a viable candidate for governor.
I liked how he and pretty much everyone got pissed off about the pay raise and i think its possible repeal is a victory for those people. But is he honestly in this to win it? Or is he simply advocating issues? Also, should I really care if my legislators and judges are making 2-6 times what the average working man in PA makes? Don't we want those to be coveted positions that attract the best minds in the state?
Anyway I will be "getting up off my duff" this Tuesday so I’m going to try to find out more about what is going to be on the ballot.

Gort said...

Thanks for stopping by Jim, I appreciate your input. I understand why the pay raise hit a nerve. Not only was it an axcessive amount but it was done in the middle of the night with no hearings or public debate. There are many reasons people run for public office but if you do it because it pays good your in it for the wrong reason.

I don't know a lot about Panyard but I like anyone who is not afraid to speak his mind even if I don't agree with him.

Anonymous said...

Oh the taste of victory is oh so sweet.

All I can say about Nigro is good riddance and seat open.

This is just the beginning of things to come in this state. The "illegal" pay grab at 2 AM in July was not forgotten, nor will it be this time next November.

I have a prediction. I suspect over the course of the next 12 months, the PA Legislature will be kissing up to the people of the commowealth. Look for tax cuts, tax breaks, and additional funding for community projects. Panic mode is here ladies and gentleman and it is long overdue. The legislature, although arrogant in their demeanor, is shaking their boots.

They counted on us to forget their selfish deeds, but enough is finally enough. The writing on the wall is plain to see and next November, I will venture to say the cesspool known as Harrisburg will be much cleaner.

Good job to all who voted this election, never forget and don't accept gifts from strangers (it is a ruse).

One more thing if I may quote
And then there was Boise Penrose, the legendary -- and, yes, often unsavory -- Republican U.S. senator of Pennsylvania, whose words long ago nailed squarely on the head the composition of the current state Legislature. His sentiments were recounted in the Feb. 14, 1931, edition of Colliers Weekly:

"In politics we must choose between the strong man whose real interests are elsewhere and who will leave office the moment bigger opportunity beckons, and the weakling who will cling because he can't hold a job anywhere else.

"Public office is the last refuge of the incompetent."