Measure locks up states legal system
- Arwen Bird
- Portland Tribune - Opinion
No on Measure 21
As the survivor of a violent assault, I know how much it means to see that justice is served. Measure 21 would paralyze the justice system because of unfilled judicial vacancies and deprive victims of having their day in court.
• This constitutional amendment would turn judges into politicians. Every vacancy would have to be filled by election, and every judge would have to run against 'None of the above.' Consequently, every judge or candidate would have to raise money to run a campaign against a last-minute attack in favor of 'None of the above.'
This would make our judges beholden to big contributors and hesitant to rule against powerful groups who could fund a 'None of the above' campaign. Judges must be impartial Ñ we do not want them to be politicians.
• Special interest groups paid big dollars to put this measure on the ballot and will pay big dollars to get you to vote for 'None of the above' when a judge has ruled against their interests. Our courts should not be controlled by special interest groups.
• This amendment is unnecessary and would clutter the constitution. Our current system works well and helps insure the impartiality of our judges.
• Measure 21 would paralyze our legal system by leaving judicial positions vacant for longer periods of time. Fewer judges would be available to hear cases. Even if someone were elected on the first try, a position might be vacant for up to nine months. If 'None of the above' won, the vacancy could last for years.
• This amendment might lead to more overturned convictions because criminals would not be not brought to trial in a timely fashion as required by law. Some criminal cases could be dismissed because there wouldn't be a judge to hear them.
• According to respected law professors, this measure is likely to be unconstitutional and would be tied up in court for years, costing taxpayers millions of dollars that our state can't afford.
Arwen Bird is the director of Survivors Advocating for an Effective System. SAFES works to empower crime survivors to advocate for restorative justice. She lives in Northeast Portland.