This fall a record number of Colloradans are expected to vote. They will help select a new President and a new Senator. They will help decide numerous ballot initiatives impacting our every day life. They will also be asked whether Colorado's Judeges should keep their jobs.
Here's what is on the mind of a former Colorado Supreme Court Justice:
"Good morning! My name is Rebecca Love Kourlis and I head the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. Here in Colorado and across the nation, we have all been swept up in the interest surrounding the upcoming presidential election. That interest will likely fuel unprecedented voter turnout. I have no doubt that we will all be well armed with information about the candidates and issues at the top of the ballot, but how about information about those listed near the bottom? And who are they? I am speaking of our judges.
I'm a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. My name appeared twice on the ballot during my time in the courts, and I want to take a moment of your time to tell you why those judges matter and how you can educate yourself about them.
No other institution in American life has the potential to impact our lives the way the courts do. Think about this from your own experience. Our courts resolve questions about whether people can keep their jobs, their children, their homes–even their freedom. Well-functioning, trust-worthy courts are a critical part of our democracy.
In Colorado, we choose judges first through a nomination and appointment process. You won't see ads on TV about a particular judge, because we've had a system for 40 years that preserves the impartiality of the judiciary. But, impartiality does not mean a lack of accountability. Those same judges come before you – the voters – for review. You can vote to keep those judges in office or not.
And, there is information available to you about their performance as judges – information that has been generated through surveys, case data and the hard work of bi-partisan commissions called the Commissions on Judicial Performance. You need to take a look at that information in order to cast informed votes.
Our institute recently conducted a survey of Colorado voters and found that most of you vote blind when it comes to judges. I believe that if you knew that there is information about our judges, you would never enter your polling place unprepared. And so I would like to invite you to visit our website at du.edu/legalinstitute to learn about Colorado's process and to get links to the Performance Commission information about YOUR judges. Courts – just like your votes – count! Thank you!"
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