We want to let you know about an issue that is important to us at Winzenburg, Leff, Purvis and Payne, LLP. In fact we think it is important enough for all of you that we are for the first time coming out with a public opinion on a political issue. We are asking you to Vote NO on 40 which will term limit judges. Whether you are conservative, liberal, Republican, Democratic or Independent Amendment 40 is a bad idea with serious consequences which you should oppose.
Even though the proponents are pushing Amendment 40 purpose of term limiting judges as a good idea; the negatives far out-weight any gains they offer for passage.
Upon passage, Amendment 40 retroactively forces 5 of the 7 Supreme Court justices and 7 of the 19 Court of Appeals judges off the bench at the same time, regardless of performance or voter preference. It fails to address the resulting backlog created by the loss of close to half of the judges on Colorado’s highest courts. It has no plan for keeping the courts operating efficiently while replacing nearly half the judges.
Amendment 40 will reintroduce partisan politics into the courtroom by giving future governors of Colorado the opportunity to replace nearly the entire Supreme Court every decade. Future governors will be able to stack the deck with judges who share their partisan political views, be they conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic.
This Amendment will not provide the effective system that will control or remove activist judges or bad judges that is being touted by its supporters. It will remove all judges, good and bad, thus leaving the judiciary in disarray. The current system allows for the removal of problem judges, while allowing those judges who are performing at the standards set by the voters to continue serving the public good.
Under the current system, judges are subject to comprehensive performance reviews; they face retention votes from the public; they are subject to disciplinary review by a commission of citizens, lawyers and judges from across the state; and they do not sit for life, there is a mandatory retirement age.
It is an amendment that does more harm than good: Colorado’s courts have been rated in the top ten nationally for impartiality and competence by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Institute for Legal Reform. It does not make sense to change a workable, well respected system because of a disagreement over one or two decisions.
The Amendment will also force qualified individuals to choose between continuing an established career or accepting a short-term judicial appointment. Many of Colorado’s best and brightest attorneys and lower court judges will be discouraged from applying to be a judge due to the impact it would have on their families, and careers. Candidates from outlying areas of the state will be less interested in uprooting their families and lives for a job they know is only temporary.
It is such a bad idea with serious consequences, that current Governor Bill Owens; former Governors, Roy Romer, Richard D. Lamm and John D. Vanderhoof; Colorado Attorney General John Suthers; and a bipartisan coalition of legislators and business leaders have all come out against Amendment 40. We, too, think you should Vote No on 40 this November.
For further information link on to www.voteno40.org.