Archive for October 18th, 2006

Those Wacky Voters

October 18, 2006

There’s an interesting ballot initiative for South Dakotans in November. It’s called “JAIL for Judges.” The idea is that if you’re involved in a legal proceeding — criminal or civil, as plaintiff or defendant — and you don’t like the outcome, you can sue the judge. That’s right: sue the judge.

You might suspect the trial lawyers are behind this, but you’d be wrong. The man behind it is a conspiracy theorist with a history of legal difficulties and quixotic court cases. He also happens to not be a resident of South Dakota; that was just the easiest (which is to say, the only) place he could get his initiative on the ballot.

He says it’s a question of democratic accountability. Judges, he says, have to be accountable to someone. In this case, that someone would be a special grand jury with rules admittedly designed to favor the plaintiff (that is, the person suing the judge). This neatly overlooks the fact that judges in SD, like in many states, are elected, and therefore already democratically accountable.

One might think this is one of those nutty propositions that show up on ballots from time to time, only to garner about 10% of the vote. One would be wrong. This thing is actually polling as a winner. If it wins, its backer says he has a multi-millionaire who’ll finance efforts to get it on the ballot in other states.

Anyway, I thought I’d blog it and see what people think.