Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Call Me Democradamus!

I hypothesized that un-slated Democrat Kimberly Brown would become a Marion County Superior Court judge because of top ballot position and "name combat," which favors women and candidates with "likeable" names.

Here are the results. The top 8 are your new judges:
Tanya Walton Pratt - 93,155

Kimberly Brown - 80,003

Annie Christ-Garcia - 76,001

David Dreyer - 70,537

Patrick McCarty - 68,083

David Shaheed - 66,190

Jim Osborn - 65,514

Gerald Zore - 63,371

Garland Graves - 62,124

Anybody notice the gender of the top three vote getters? Also, even WITH the slate endorsing her, Annie "C"hrist-Garcia came in behind "B"rown. Name combat also likely explains why the longest serving Judge, Gerald Zore, nearly got bumped due to being out-performed by a higher-placed newbie, Jim Osborn.

If you want to be a judge, you need to put a meeting with Tanya Walton Pratt on your agenda. One would like to think that just being highly esteemed by her colleagues would turn into electoral success, but it can't be just that. TWP has political magic, folks. Outperforming the next best vote getter in a judicial race by 13,000 votes (a number that was eerily significant on election night) is the equivalent of a landslide. TWP was just as impressive as it gets.

I've always liked Garland Graves, but if anybody deserved to get bounced, it was him. While Brown was ranked in the bottom by Indianapolis Bar Association attorneys, Graves was ranked even worse. Accordingly, this result was no where near as catastrophic as it could have been.

Aside from feeling Kim Brown is not ready, I have to say I grow weary of the astonishing number of family dynasties my Marion County Democratic Party creates. Carson to Carson, Linda Brown and now Kim Brown, Billie Breaux and Jean Breaux, Ed Treacy to his wife Rebecca Pierson-Treacy, and Louie Mahern and Ed Mahern to Brian Mahern, Dane Mahern, and Jim Mahern. Holy crap, man! Even if you are a HUGE fan of the family, how many Maherns can you put on a city-county council before it starts to look bad?

I don't want this to turn into an indictment of anybody's service or qualifications because Senator Breaux has served with distinction, and I haven't followed the others' careers well enough to indict or praise, though it's well-known among Indianapolis lawyers that Ms. Treacy was one of the most poorly ranked lawyers to win a judgeship. But that was before she took the bench. We won't know until she's reviewed again whether her critics were wrong or right about her potential.

Some might say, "Chris, how is family favoritism different from all your candidates coming from the same political network. For example, some Clinton folks, like Rahm Emanuel, are in Congress or in Governorships (Bill Richardson). Evan Bayh's executive assistants, like Bart Peterson, have huge clout now. Or what about being from the same school, like the Kennedy-Harvard connection? That is its own sort of cronyism."

That's true, but family is more potent. When family is involved, it's FULL blinders. Sorry, but pushing family is like representing them in a lawsuit. You're just too close to make an objective assessment of whether they're best for the party, rather than best for your family.

But more critically, because of the sensitivity of "family issues," you get people who know better who are afraid to speak up. I'm a huge fan of Judge Linda Brown, but I'm a bit terrified I might get the evil eye the next time I see her at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport because I dissed her sister. I have the same fear because I was not always sycophantically falling over Congressman Carson's performance at various points during his campaign, and I hope speaking what I believe to be true won't damage my relationship with his father-in-law, Judge David Shaheed, who I admire greatly.

If you think I'm wrong that family ties squelch dissent, raise your hand if you thought Hugh Rodham's run for U.S. Senate in Florida was a good idea. (Crickets chirp. Tumbleweeds blow through the dusty fields). And now tell me everybody you've read about or even heard about from a fourth-hand source who played campaign buzz-kill with Hillary and told her it was an idiot idea. Exactly. Who would want to be on the outs with a current (insert office here) or potential future (insert higher office here).



John M said...

I am always surprised by the results of the IBA survey and don't find the results to be consistent with my impressions. It seems that any judge who has been on the bench for a long time, no matter how unprofessional and/or unprepared, gets a high rating. I know nothing of Garland Graves, but just having listened to him speak a couple of times I would rather roll the dice on him than continue to re-elect certain of the more experience judges on the civil bench.

Chris Worden said...

The process is certainly imperfect. I think allowing for anonymous comments is helpful in some respects (how many people would openly criticize a sitting judge?). But it also concerns me that the comments aren't run through some type of committee filter because you never know how many people are criticized because someone has an axe to grind or how much of it is political stacking of the deck. Moreover, as a family law attorney, I seldom appear before the elected judge. It was unclear to me whether comments about commissioners were intended in this survey. Also, I think the process should quantify the level of contact between judicial candidate and reviewer. If someone got a bad result on one case, they might take it out on the judge, while frequent appearances would likely "even things out" and give a better representation of the judge's skill and demeanor.

artfuggins said...

Judge Zore always runs poorly because of his last name beginning with Z. Garland would have been a better judge and is a better person than a couple of the fools who won......both white men .....who have alienated a lot of had to use tv spots to make sure he got reelected.

Anonymous said...

Treacy is either in her second or third term as judge. I think this is her third term, but I can't be sure.

And, yeah, she is just as bad as you hear. There is no wait and see with her, she is just as bad as we thought she would be. The public never sees that, though, unless they are criminals. The only ones who would see that are jury members, but since she refuses to move beyond misdemeanor, and gets someone to do her juries for her when one does come around, no one sees that side of her.

What's even sadder is how many other judges out there go absolutely ballistic if they have to do a jury. What did you expect when you put that robe on?

I agree with John as well-those IBA surveys are not great. First, they do favor sitting judges, who due to the nature of their job, are supposed to be impartial. Contrast this with attorneys who are supposed to be zealously representing thier clients. They also skew towards the defense bar. I also wish they would publish the comments unless of releasing them only to the judges.