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Kansas Bar Association: Judicial Retention Too Political

Legal experts think retention elections for judges in Kansas are becoming more politicized. Two Kansas Supreme Court Justices were reelected in November with about 53 percent of the vote -- much smaller than the typical 70 percent majority in previous judicial retention elections in the state. The two judges were criticized because of the court's ruling that two Wichita brothers who were sentenced to death for committing four murders should be resentenced. Kansas Bar Association president Jerry Green sees problems with a politically charged atmosphere. "Selecting judges where people are listening to the soundbites and the ads that we see for politicians, is maybe not the best way to try to evaluate judges." Green says. Since Kansas campaign laws don’t cover Supreme Court retention elections, critics of the current system worry that unlimited outside money could pressure judges to let politics influence their courtroom decisions.

Jerry Green, Kansas Bar Association

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