North Carolina candidate wants me to elect him to its high court

October 19, 2010
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I don’t live in North Carolina. I never have, and I’m pretty sure I just briefly drove through it once on my way to Florida. Yet, somehow, a North Carolina judge’s campaign has decided to send me an e-mail on why Judge Bob Hunter should be a North Carolina Supreme Court justice. Sorry, Judge Hunter, but I can’t vote for you as I live in Indiana and don’t care about your campaign.

I can’t figure out how I ended up the recipient of this campaign e-mail. I wonder what company sold my e-mail address to his campaign. They must have sent out a mass e-mail to any e-mail address they had and that’s how I ended up with it e-mail in my junk folder.

Out of curiosity, I searched for Judge Bob Hunter’s name online and got his campaign site to see if this was even a legit e-mail. Judge Hunter is on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. He has oodles of endorsements, from police organizations, former North Carolina chief justices and other judges, newspapers, and former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt.

This is why electing judges makes me uneasy. What if there is a case involving one of those newspapers that endorsed him that makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, where he could perhaps be a justice. What if Judge Hunter finds himself ruling on a case involving one of the sheriff’s departments that have endorsed him?

When you mix money and politics, it can be a recipe for appearances of impropriety or partiality. If you’ve got a lot of endorsements from various groups, will you be forced to recuse yourself a lot from court? That doesn’t seem very effective.

I’m happy with Indiana’s appointment and retention system for filling our appellate courts. I’d be happier if Indiana went to a uniform system of appointing judges instead of electing lower-court judges. And my inbox is also happy it isn’t filled with e-mail from judicial candidates vying for the bench.

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