Good morning, Judge Asti. My name is Joe Smith. I represent the Plaintiff in this case. I’m here seeking that this Honorable Court use its discretion to…..Oh, you remember me, Judge? Yes, I was big into Judge Jarashow’s campaign. Yes, you might recall, I said some awful things about you. Sorry. Anyway, my client is…..
Many Anne Arundel County trial lawyers stood up to support Judge Laura S. Kiessling and Judge Ronald Jarashow’s campaigns against Alison Asti. Interestingly, this effort continued long after it became obvious to everyone that Asti would win. Our firm was a co-sponsor of one of the last fundraisers for the sitting judges. But we were never anti Alison Asti. You can go back through the many blog posts I have written and there is nothing critical about Judge Asti. I never even pointed out that she went to Duke. (She went to law school at Maryland so maybe it is a wash. Maybe.) In fact, I said I bet she will make an excellent judge despite her lack of trial experience just like I think Justice Kagan will be an effective justice.
(Read through this blog. I really don’t have bad things to say about anyone. I just criticize positions. There were absolutely no issues in this campaign from any of the candidates. Which is a part of the problem with judicial elections)
Still, I don’t regret that our firm supported the sitting judges and I still wish Judge Jarashow had won. The Maryland State Bar Association is with me too, supporting all the sitting judges out of principle. I think judicial elections are like the election for homecoming king in high school, with good looks and athletic prowess replaced by political savvy, great organizational skills, and having a name that is not alphabetically challenged. It is the wrong way to pick a judge. In fact, I would support a less qualified sitting judge over a more qualified challenger. It is like stare decisis. I think the strong rebuttable presumption should rest with the sitting judges. Judge Jarashow did not need any rebuttable presumption: it was clear he was eminently qualified.
Now we come to a reason heretofore unmentioned in my many rants against judicial elections: hard feelings. Lawyers that took real shots at soon-to-be Judge Asti will now appear in front of her. So will lawyers like me who supported the sitting judges. Without flattering myself, I would be surprised if Alison Asti has not seen my blog posts on the election. My posts have ranked high on the search engines. I really doubt she will hold this against me or my law firm (and, hey, we are even LinkedIn friends from long before this campaign started). But some trial lawyers made some harsh comments about Asti’s qualifications. Those lawyers can’t be excited about going in front of Judge Asti and asking for her to use her discretion in favor of their client. I don’t think she will really hold it against anyone’s clients. But, then again, human beings are human beings.
In judicial elections I think there are more likely to be hard feelings because judges are probably more like the rest of us than politicians. A career politician like Harry Reid, you could insult his entire family and he would probably be as equally willing to work with you after the election as he was before. “It is all in the game,” as Omar Little used to say on The Wire. President Obama warmly hugs and campaigns for Governor O’Malley even though he was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But for judges, it is not all in the game because they are not in the game. They just want to be a judge. I suspect that many of them remember who was strongly for or against them. Mark this down to reason #9,308 why judicial elections are a terrible idea.