Lawyers face up to limits

How does an advocate for judicial reform gain a hearing from the frowning skeptics he’s sure to meet in the pages of a lawyers’ magazine? I’ll start by summoning to the witness stand a poet, a playwright, a revolutionary, and a cowboy humorist. So begins my half of a pro-con feature on judicial term limits in The Colorado Lawyer, the monthly magazine of the Colorado Bar Association, February 2008 issue, pages 43-48.

The opposition case is made by Marshall Snider, a retired administrative law judge, who starts out... "proposals have been floated to limit the terms of office of judges. This a bad idea. Term limiting judges does not solve any discernible problem in the judicial system and does not add value to the administration of justice."

Colorado Lawyer Feb. 2008 shows the whole exchange as it appeared in print. My hat is off to the fair-minded editors I worked with, Fred Burtzos and Leona Martinez, and to whatever CBA officers supervise them, for including me in this symposium and then giving me my head.

The invitation actually came before our issue committee, Limit the Judges, decided to attempt a 2008 ballot issue that we hope will succeed, with modifications, where our 2006 proposal failed. It has even more relevance now that our new initiative has cleared the title-setting process and begun circulating petitions.

If we can get 100,000 signatures from Coloradans this spring and then a majority vote this fall, Colorado will become the first state to impose term limits on the most powerful branch of American government, the judiciary.