Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update on Slating of Marion County GOP Judicial Candidates

While in court this morning, I was given an update on GOP slating for judges.  More on that in a second.  As way of background, in the May 2012 Primary, Republicans and Democrats will nominate 10 candidates each.  Twenty judges will be elected in the general election. So winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election.

In Marion County the parties have "slating," a party endorsement process where party workers are supposed to meet and decide who to support going into the primary.  Candidates not "slated" are expected to drop out, leaving the parties' voters with no choice going into the primary.

The GOP judicial slating fee is about $25,000.   It used to be you received 80% of that back if not slated. Now I do believe they're giving a smaller percent back if not slated and nothing back if you run against the slate.  In 1992, the Judicial Qualifications Commission issued an advisory opinion that the payment of a slating fee (which back then was much less) by a judicial candidate violates the Code of Judicial Conduct.  When that opinion was issued, the Marion County party chairmen began claiming the judicial slating fees were "voluntary" and therefore did not violate the rule cited by the Commission. Some 110 judicial candidates have been slated since that 1992 opinion.  I am not aware of a single judicial candidate who has ever been slated without paying the slating fee.  If you do not pay the $25,000 slating fee, you can forget about getting slated.

When it comes to the slating process, party leaders tell hard-working precinct committeemen (PCs) that slating is their right to have input into the process and that any candidate who runs against the slate is personally insulting the work they do. What party leaders do not tell those PCs is that for every one one of them, the party leaders will have appointed at least two or more individuals as Ward Chairmen or to fill vacant PC positions.  Many of these people are just appointed for slating only, so-called "mummy dummies."    Mummy-dummies' only job is to show up at a slating convention and vote the right way, i.e. the way the party bosses who appointed them expect them to vote.  The party leaders make sure they have the votes to outvote actual working PCs who might have an independent though on who they want slated.

In theory slating conventions are attended by elected PCs who work hard and are rewarded by party leaders with the right to have a big influence on party endorsements. Instead slating has become a charade, a way party leaders can pick the parties' nominees while pretending that grass roots party workers are the ones making that choice.

Now to the update.  The gossip is that when asked at a party meeting whether she would consider running in the primary if not slated, Judge Carol Orbison (honestly) answered that she had not ruled out that option.  That response supposedly doomed her slating. 

According to my sources, slating set for January 28th is already over.  The four candidates that would fill Orbison's position and that of the three retiring GOP judges are Helen Marchal, Jim Joven, Amy Jones and Clayton Graham.  The rest of the judges will be reslated.  Apparently there is no reason to even show up for slating.  The GOP leadership has spoken.

While we are fortunate enough to have some quality judges in Marion County, it is despite the slating system, not because of it.  Whether it is the requirement that judges pay slating fees that violate the Code of Judicial Conduct or a slating process dominated by party leaders, clearly the Marion County slating process is not conducive to an independent judiciary.

See also: 

Marion County Judicial Candidates Should Say "No" To Slating Fees, Monday, November 21, 2011

Code of Judicial Conduct Prohibits Marion County Judicial Candidates From Paying Slating Fee, Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Gary R. Welsh said...

I had a call from one of the judicial candidates seeking my vote at slating. I didn't think there was even a race from what I could discern that made it worth the effort to show up for the slating. I think the response I got was that there was possibly one more running than positions up for election. Our system for electing judges in this county is the laughing stock of the country. My recollection is that Judge Brown ran against the Democratic slate and won. She had the luck of ballot placement. Indiana has this half-assed rule that places you on the ballot alphabetically, giving a big advantage to people whose last names begin near the start of the alphabet. I believe Brown was first on the ballot when she beat one of the slated Democratic candidates.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think you are right, Gary. Ballot placement and being female helps on these types of "list" races where people don't know the candidates. That would have helped having an "American sounding" name didn't hurt.

I wish they would take a look at getting rid of the alphabetical order approach. Maybe a blind draw or rotate the names. You can do that now with computerization.

Back to slating, what is missed by news outlet is that our candidates aren't picked at slating. They are picked BEFORE slating. By the time you get to slating, the choices have basically been made for you.

karma09 said...

Brizzi's personal choice to replace him, now as a judge? Good God.