A newly formed panel will look at how Michigan Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges are elected. The complaint among many lawyers and judges: Huge amounts of money are spent portraying opposing candidates as unfit for office.

WWJ spoke with Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, a co-chair of the panel, who said the problems are getting worse.

“Things have really ramped up over the last decade or two. And, these races used to be sort of obscure and not too controversial. But, in recent years, more and more money has been pouring in — and a lot of it has been coming from outside the state,” she said.

“This year, I thought that some of the ads were defiantly pretty abusive and degrading for the candidates,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the panel will work on ways to educate voters about these races.

“The public frequently doesn’t vote for judges, and I think it’s partly because people don’t know  enough about the candidates to make an informed judgement. And sometimes people vote and guess — don’t really know who they’re voting for. We need to do a better job of informing the public about the people running for these jobs,” she said.

The 24-member task force includes a wide range of Democrats, Republicans, independents, lawyers and non-lawyers.   They plan to release their recommendations in 2011.


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