J.A.I.L. News Journal
The Inherent Right of ALL People to
Alter or Reform Government.
Judicial System Lets Americans
... In Security, Prosperity and
Amendment E in South Dakota got
like a car gets when its driven
into a junkyard
and is carried out as a one-ton
--Tom Dennis for the Herald
November 13, 2006
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Throw away the key on Jail4Judges
Our view: The Jail4Judges Amendment would threaten judicial independence and our legal system. It's a good thing that it failed in South Dakota.
President Bush got a "thumpin'" in Tuesday's election, Amendment E in South
Dakota got a "crushin,'" like a car gets when its driven into a junkyard and is
carried out as a one-ton metal brick.
measure got hammered by a 90 percent to 10 percent vote. Which is good because
it couldn't have happened to a nicer amendment.
Amendment E, charmingly named the "Jail4Judges" Amendment by its own
supporters, indeed would have resulted in just that: jail for some judges, as
well as fines, censure, removal from office and forfeiture of retirement
judge takes bribes or pulls a knife on a witness in court, he or she would
deserve some of those things. But that's not what Amendment E was about.
Amendment E was about taking judges down for their routine decisions. It would
have weakened judicial immunity, a protection that has shielded court officers
for all of American history and is a cornerstone of our entire judicial
Currently, if you disagree with a judge's decision, you can appeal it,
but you can't sue the judge. Amendment E would have changed that. The amendment
would have established a permanent, 13-person special grand jury that would have
decided whether lawsuits against judges were frivolous or deserved to go to
that there would have been much doubt about the result, given that putting a
judge on trial would have required only a simple majority of jurors, and the
amendment itself included this astonishing language: "All allegations in the
complaint shall be liberally construed in favor of the complainant."
percent to 10 percent outcome Election Day makes it seem as though the amendment
was DOA, but it wasn't. A Sept. 20 Zogby poll suggested that 67 percent of
voters favored the measure, while only 20 percent opposed it. And the Friday
before the election, a South Dakota TV station's poll claimed that the measure
still drew the support of 51 percent of all voters.
have polling errors been so welcome, because Amendment E needed to be not just
defeated, but trashed. The amendment would have taken a sledgehammer to a system
that--for all its faults--jails criminals, enforces contracts, and otherwise
carries out a "rule of law" in America that lets most Americans live out their
lives in security, prosperity and freedom.
the system need reform? Sure, as all systems devised by humankind do. And the
political process is proving quite adequate to that task. Not only are Supreme
Court appointments matters of intense national debate, but also the rules for
appointing state and other lower-court judges are under constant review.
voters seem open to less-radical but still far-reaching reforms, such as the
Shared Parenting Initiative in North Dakota. It failed at the polls, but not by
much--an outcome that suggests lawmakers and voters will debate that issue for
many years to come.
this environment, it was good to see Amendment E go down to absurdly lopsided
defeat. South Dakota voters want reform, not revolution, the vote declared; it
renews one's faith in the initiative system to see voters make that distinction
Congratulations, South Dakota, for such a sensible yet unmistakable
response. Jail4Judges appears to be one movement that Americans want to see
--Tom Dennis for the Herald
to read our South Dakota Post-Election Report