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IL Editorial: The cynic asks: yVote! or why vote?

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
August 31, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

Marion County Clerk Beth White has started her yVote! program, which we believe to be a wonderful undertaking. She travels to any Marion County high school that will have her in to teach civics. She talks to students about where they vote depending on where they live, the different ways to vote, and who is on the ballot. Students also get a chance to try out casting a ballot on the county’s voting equipment. During one particular session, White asked students to choose among the following mock candidates for president: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. White also registers to vote any interested students who will be age 18 on or before the general election, which this year is Nov. 8.

She’s taken her traveling civics class to 22 public, private, and charter high schools, and registered more than 1,650 students to vote since she started the program in 2008.

Some of us on the newspaper staff who live in Marion County have had students who have gotten to participate in White’s yVote! program. One student thought it was “kinda cool” to register to vote during a program at school and “got a kick out of it” when White asked students to vote for their favorite political family, choosing among the Kennedys, Clintons, and the Bushes.EditorialFactbox.gif

This particular student didn’t recall White describing the process by which judges are chosen in Marion County. This student listened to the short version of the process: the fundraising for the slating fee, the two major political parties placing the candidates on the ballot, and the fact that unless a rogue candidate decides to run against the slate there will be, for example, eight judicial openings and eight judicial candidates on the ballot. The student’s response to this? “That’s kinda messed up.”

We had the same reaction to a fundraising flyer that circulated toward the middle of this month for Marion Superior Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy. After severe criticism of the wording along side the suggested donations for her honor’s slating fee, the event was canceled. The wording in question?

$150 “Sustained”

$250 “Affirmed”

$500 “So Ordered”

$1,000 “Favorable Ruling”

The judge has declared that the word choice in no way indicates that her rulings can be purchased, which we believe to be true. But it still points out the terrible idea it is to have people who are charged with deciding the fate of those who appear before them to be out raising money to remain in office.

In short, the most adept fundraiser may not always be the most adept judge, and to be quite frank, we’d prefer the most adept judge if it’s all the same to the two major political parties. But alas, the parties seem to be mostly concerned with keeping the most adept fundraisers in office.•
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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