Back to the Drawing Board in Missouri
October 4, 2012
For years, reformers have been trying to break the monopoly the Missouri Bar and the state’s powerful trial lawyer lobby have on judicial selection. Lawmakers succeeded in putting an initiative on the November ballot to reduce the power of legal special interest groups. Yet when it came time to write the ballot language, Democrat Secretary of State Robin Carnahan – an opponent of reform – offered up a deeply misleading summary which leaves the impression that lawyers would have more power, rather than less – precisely the opposite of the initiative’s intention.
After trying and failing to have the biased language modified or replaced, reformers now plan to fight another day. Said James Harris, Executive Director of Better Courts for Missouri, “we made a smart business decision and kind of paused and regrouped and decided we’re going back to the drawing board.”
While trial lawyer dominance over judicial selection will continue in Missouri for the time being, “merit” selection is clearly on the defensive in the state where it originated. Hopefully the legislature will come back with a tighter initiative that can’t be killed by reform opponents before voters even have a chance to consider it.