Not surprisingly, as the election approaches there’s more national coverage of Amendment E. J.A.I.L. isn’t faring too well.
In an editorial today headlined “Trial by ordeal“, the Dallas-Fort Worth (Tex.) Star-Telegram called the J.A.I.L. movement “lunacy” and an “undemocratic assault on judicial independence.” It also said:
Why should anyone cheer for the good voters of South Dakota to smash this noxious notion flat? Because if they don’t, the litigious Californian who spawned it will try to infect other states with his insidious brand of chaos masquerading as justice.The Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, designated Constitutional Amendment E on the South Dakota ballot, would set up a special grand jury of 13 people, selected by lottery, to hear complaints from any malcontents who didn’t like the results they got in regular court.
Patient sued a physician and lost? Must be corruption by the judge — take it to the special grand jury.
Criminal defendant considered his prison sentence too harsh? Judge must have acted badly — take it to the special grand jury.
Ron Branson and his South Dakota cohort, William Stegmeier, call it accountability to rein in “rampant” corruption. They insist that it isn’t enough to have appellate review of court decisions, a system for disciplining judges and, in South Dakota, elections by which voters can directly choose who sits on the bench.
No, let unhappy litigants sue judges directly. Better yet, let’s prosecute the judges, fine them and toss them in jail for decisions we don’t like.
Under JAIL, the grand jurors wouldn’t decide based on a thorough evaluation of evidence; allegations must be “liberally construed” in favor of the complainers. …. The grand jurors — who can’t be judges, public officials, state bar members or law enforcement personnel — would decide for themselves, presumably based on their own omniscience, whether accused judges engaged in deliberate violations.* * *
Their proposal is as breathtaking in its wackiness as in its menace.
In addition, “America’s Business,” a radio broadcast of the National Association of American Manufacturers (NAM) interviews South Dakota reporter Bob Mercer and Jay Bender of Falcon Plastics in Aberdeen. NAM has been following Amendment E because, according to its web site, “because it will make South Dakota the hottest of Judicial Hellholes® by inviting out-of-state, frivolous lawsuits and throwing the rule of law out the window.” The audio file is here.
All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.
Andrew Jackson, Letter, July 5, 1822