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Supreme Court Elections

November 02, 1986

Justice is an illusive concept. Judges must not only be qualified, but unafraid. Decisions must be based upon fairness, not expediency. An alarming trend to oppose judges and appellate justices based upon political consideration, rather than merit, could overwhelm and destroy respect for law and order.

Instead of seeking only the ouster of those found to be unqualified, recent slate mailers seek to oust those of the "wrong" political party. I refer to your article (Oct. 28), "Slates Mailed to GOP Voters Oppose 5 Appellate Justices."

The risk of retaliation each time a governor is up for election, with the opportunity to replace defeated judges, portends making judges political candidates rather than independent members of the judiciary or called for by our Constitution.

Requiring judges to raise money (primarily from lawyers); forcing them to campaign; and testing their decisions based upon what is popular, rather than what is right, could undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

Voters should send a resounding message to the political hacks, who do not understand the legal process, by affirming each judge and justice on the ballot--except where there has been demonstrated incompetence.

For the longer term, California must adopt new procedures that avoid political attacks on judges designed to further the ends of political parties or candidates, and unrelated to the merits of those who dispense justice in the courts.

SANFORD M. GAGE

Beverly Hills

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