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Judges shouldnt be politicians, too

I served on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1979 to 1993. That experience and many years in the private practice of law convince me that this amendment to the state constitution would be bad policy for Oregon.

Specifically:

• This amendment makes judges into politicians. They will be answerable to a specific geographic constituency. Judges should not be politicians and should be accountable only to following the law.

• We should always elect the most qualified judges, regardless of where they are from. Measure 22 would limit our ability to elect the most qualified judges to serve on our state's highest courts.

This scheme was thrown out by the voters in 1910. We shouldn't bring it back.

• Each of us now votes for 17 appellate judges (seven for the Supreme Court, 10 for the Court of Appeals). This amendment would limit our choice to just two for the Court of Appeals and one for the Supreme Court.

• This amendment would increase the cost of our court system. Because judges would have to live in the district from which they were elected, they would be required to have offices and staffs in those districts, thus multiplying by at least seven times the number of facilities the state currently funds.

• This amendment would make our appellate courts less efficient. With judges all over the state who have to rule on the same cases, more travel would be required, cutting down their time for productive work.

Edwin J. Peterson is a retired chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. He lives in Salem.