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Reader appalled

9/18/99



To the editor:
I am appalled by the article which appeared on the Sept. 5 front page of your paper entitled: "Flournoy case prompts reform bid -- Verkamp wants 'kangaroo court' revamped."

The process of evaluating judges should be "reformed," but not as Judge Verkamp desires. Instead, such reform should bind our judges, elected or appointed, to even higher standards. Such evaluations should not, and must not be court situations as Verkamp suggests. This is not to say that Flournoy, and other suspect judges are to be denied counsel. As I understand it, Flournoy had at least six lawyers working on his behalf in the case that has prompted Verkamp to suggest "reform."

A commission of oversight is essential in protecting the rights of those who find themselves in court where the whims of a judge can, and have created true "kangaroo courts."

The Commission on Judicial Conduct is not a kangaroo court, or even a court -- it is an agency of oversight established to protect public interest against judges who garner too much power, and abuse their position. To change it in the way that Judge Verkamp proposes would severely curtail its ability to rein in runaway judges such as Flournoy.

No. Judges must be held to higher standards, for they hold in their trust matters of life and death in criminal cases, and the ability to impoverish in civil cases.

Judges must submit to closer scrutiny just as police officers and other public employees do when they acquiesce to random drug testing, and other intrusive investigations into their public, and private lives. Accordingly, the public and personal lives of all judges, elected or appointed, must be in compliance with the law that they on the bench espouse. And their decisions and activities in court must be subject to un-hindered oversight by a commission such as the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct.

What the Commission charged Flournoy with is only the tip of the iceberg, and should the Commission look deeper into the records of his court they will most certainly find even more blatant violations.

I applaud the Commission in its efforts. If any "reform" is to be done, the Arizona Legislature should expand the Commission on Judicial Conduct's investigative powers over incompetent, and especially power hungry judges who consider thselves to be above the law.

Steve Schoner

Flagstaff







 
The Arizona Daily Sun
Copyright 1999, Pulitzer Community Newspapers, Inc.

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