Outgoing justice, Bill Riggs, speaks out

The Salem Statesman-Journal has a long and fascinating interview with Justice William Riggs - who is retiring from Oregon's Supreme Court this month.

Tucked into the interview, he has two thoughts about reforming the way we pick judges.

Q: Should judges be elected?

A: It should be changed to a merit system. I think money and politics should be taken out of the equation when it comes to selecting judges. But whether voters will ever agree to that is problematic.

If we had leadership by the governor, legislators, politicians and the business community moving toward a merit-selection system, I think it would be easier to pass than the sales tax -- and God knows how often Oregon has tried that (nine attempts since 1933).

Q: Are you free to comment on Measure 40, the second time in four years that voters will decide a proposed requirement to elect appellate judges by district, instead of statewide?

A: It's a poor policy choice for Oregonians.

It's going to take away the ability of the average Oregonian to vote for an entire court. Voters are going to be limited to voting for one member of the Supreme Court who happens to live in their region. I think it's going to severely limit the quality of candidates who come forth to sit as appellate judges.

That isn't to say there aren't qualified people in other areas around the state. I am sure there are. But this will be a dilution of the people's ability to vote for members of these courts, which are extremely important in their lives even though they may not realize it.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • KISS (unverified)

    As fine a judge as you find. I have the honor of knowing Bill in high school. We had many an argument over jazz. Bill being a good sax player I hoped he would keep up his playing,but alas, he gave it up. I too was scared shitless that Bob Tierman would get into the supreme court. I have read decisions that made my blood boil..I never once thought the decisions were outside influenced. Our supreme court is still a place on honor IMO. I hope all will join me in voting NO on measure 40

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    KISS -- I've now fixed three straight comments of yours where you got the bolding wrong. Please get it right, or don't bother. (You're forgetting the slash in the close-bold tag.)

  • Eric (unverified)

    I, too, am voting NO on 40. This is because it messes with the constitution. Any intiative that messes with the constitution gets an automatic NO. We should find other ways to deal with this issue than to screw up the constitution.

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    Personally, I like the slogan, "Forty-four and nothing more."

    That means yes on Measure 44, the Prescription Drug Purchasing Pool, and no on everything else.

  • Eric (unverified)
    <h2>Actually, I will agree with that. The denizens at Blue Oregon have actually persuaded me to vote yes on 44...and nothing more.</h2>
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