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2004 Judicial Election -

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2004 Judicial Election


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Back To: Citizens Guide to St. Paul

Summary of Oct 2004 discussion about Judicial Elections

This is a summary of a discussion that took place in the St. Paul Issues Forum, in October 2004. Written and posted by, Tim Erickson.

John Birrenbach initially posted his endorsement of Patricia Sifferle and reminded us that Judicial races are often uncontested. He suggested that this was not good for democracy and that we ought to encourage more competition for these judicial offices.

Andy Driscoll posted an alternative endorsement for the incumbent Mike Fetsch along with the following statement:

  "It is customary, especially for nonpartisan
   seats on the District Court, that challengers
   to an incumbent judge standing for reelection
   (or election, if appointed) present cogent
   reasons for doing so, and I challenge Ms.
   Sifferle to state those reasons."

Joelle Tegwen agreed with John that "we definitely need to work to make contested judicial races more common and learn more about the judges who are appointed." However, she expressed her disappointment with the answers Patricia Sifferle provided on the Minnesota Lawyer questionnaire. See Second District - Seat 14

Charlie Swope agreed that as long as we are having judicial elections, it makes sense to have them contested. However, he questioned the idea of having judicial elections at all and suggests that his own preference would be for an appointed judiciary.

Patricia Sifferle joined the discussion and briefly discussed her reasons for running and responded directly to the questions raised by Joelle Tegwen. Her full message can be read here:

   - "I believe I will be a better judge."
   - "I have pledged not to do any negative
  "I am running strictly on my merits to serve, and
  because I would like to improve on the way things
  are currently being done.  I believe I am more
  approachable, articulate, down-to-earth, courteous,
  energetic, kind, and diplomatic than my opponent,
  and I will make an excellent judge for Ramsey County.
  I hope you will vote for me on November 2nd."

Bill Stoesz pointed out that the MCCL is running stealth campaigns in some parts of the state to replace incumbent judges with single-issue judges compatible on their issue. He questioned whether or not Patricia Sifferle might not be one of those candidates. Patricia Sifferle responded - "I am absolutely not one of these candidates!" She went on to say that she does not believe that judicial candidates should affiliate themselves with any interest organizations and should not accept party endorsements.

Jeanne Weigum posted a story about a case that she was involved in before incumbent judge Mike Fetsch. She expressed her displeasure with his handling of the case and stated that she "will not be voting for Judge Fetsch."

Tom Goldstein expressed his confidence in Jeanne Weigum's opinions and the added fact that Patricia Sifferle is a "Carleton grad, which means she's gotta have something on the ball!"

Anne Carroll posted comments which suggest caution in making voting decisions based upon one experience or event. She goes on to raise interesting questions about how we make choices that affect who we support or choose not to support in an election.

Brian Bates takes us back to the question of choosing judges by election vs. appointment. He expresses frustration at the manner in which judges have subverted the constitutional process, by making it a practice to leave office mid-term so that their successor can be appointed. He suggests that we elect judges or that we change our constitution and appoint them, but that we not continue this practice of midterm appointments to prevent genuine contested judicial elections.


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