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SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON NOMINATION OF JUDGES BY THE BAR
DENVER, Colo., July 9, 1914. To the Colorado Bar Association:
The Committee on Nomination of Judges by the Bar was appointed by the President of the Association in pursuance of a resolution adopted at the Sixteenth Annual meeting. The work of the committee was delaved because of the unavoidable absence from the State for extended periods of the person designated as the chairman of that committee, but finally the work was commenced and since its commencement it has proceeded vigorously.
At the meeting of this Association, held in Denver on May 9, 1914, the committee submitted a mode of procedure which was adopted, and under this plan the committee caused to be taken a ballot of the members of the Bar throughout the State.
Three ballots have been taken with the result that, under the plan, a fourth ballot is now being taken, in which the vote shall be limited to the eight candidates whose total vote on the third ballot aggregated 60 per cent. of the entire vote cast on that ballot. It is expected that this ballot will be returned on the 16th instant, and that if a further ballot be necessary, a fifth ballot will be taken before July 22nd, on which date the nominating assembly of one of the political parties will convene.
Another of these nominating assemblies will convene on July 30th and another on August 4th, and it is expected that the name of our candidate for the Supreme Court to be voted for at the November (1914) election will be presented to each and all of these nominating assemblies and to others as they may convene; so that if possible the choice of the Bar may be named by all political organizations, and thus the election of the Bar candidate made certain.
A corrected list of the practicing lawyers in the State shows that there are 1,516 persons engaged in the active practice of the legal profession in Colorado, distributed among the different Judicial Districts as follows:
District No. 1, 26; District No. 2, 807; District No. 3, 59; District No. 4, 103; District No. 5, 18; District No. 6, 34; District No. 7, 86; District No. 8, 139; District No. 9,
938; District No. 10, 93; District No. 11, 34; District No. 12, 29; District No. 13, 50.
Something over 600 votes were cast at the first, or informal ballot, and 140 candidates were named.
A second ballot, the first formal ballot, was immediately taken and canvassed, at which 904 votes were cast, divided among 82 of the 84 candidates whose names appeared on the ballot; 440 of these votes were cast by Denver lawyers and 464 by lawyers resident in other sections of the State than Denver.
On the third ballot 860 votes were cast, 462 by the Denver members of the Bar and 398 by lawyers of the State not resident in Denver; these votes were divided among 62 candidates, the largest number cast for any one being 134.
Under the plan adopted, the candidates receiving the highest number of votes of an aggregate equal to 60 per cent. of the entire vote cast are found to be 8 in number. The aggregate vote cast for these eight is 531, fifteen more than the requisite 60 per cent., and these votes range from 134 for the highest candidate, to 34 for the one lowest on the list. The ballot sent out for the taking of the fourth ballot, then, contains the names of eight persons from whom the choice will be made.
The committee has been very much gratified by the genuine interest manifested by the members of our profession throughout the State in this matter of a selection of a justice of the Supreme Court whose choice shall depend not on his political activities or the voting strength of the political organization with which he may be affiliated, but on the judgment of his brother lawyers as to his fitness for the position, and the desirability of his selection. We know that many lawyers have taken great trouble to see that their votes reached the proper committeemen and an examination of the various ballots shows that much careful consideration has been given to the voting by those on whom the responsibility has rested, and we think the members of this Association have good reason to congratulate themselves on the results that have been accomplished; even if we shall not succeed this time in securing the election to the Supreme Bench of the man on whom we shall agree, we have brought the matter to the serious attention of the lawyers and of the public generally, and it seems certain that whatever may be the result of this movement at the present time, its ultimate effect must inevitably be that greater care 'than heretofore shall be exercised in the choice of judicial officers throughout the State.
When this matter was under discussion at the 1913 meeting, there seemed to be a fear on the part of many of us that the lawyers might be influenced by local or personal or political bias, but an analysis of the votes cast shows that there is a wide acquaintance of the lawyers of the State with each other, and that such influences as were feared have had very little, if any, effect.
Take the second ballot for example: the vote of the different districts was distributed as follows:
First District, total 24 votes, 9 of which were cast for resident candidates and 14 for non-resident candidates, 11 of these being residents of Denver.
In the Second District 410 votes were cast, of which 333 were divided among a large number of Denver lawyers and 107 were cast for persons resident outside the Second District.
In the Third District, 32 votes were cast, 3 for residents of the district, 17 for non-residents, of whom 12 lived in Denver.
In the Fourth District there were cast 63 votes, 32 for residents of that district and 33 for non-residents, of which 25 were for Denver residents.
In the Fifth District 12 votes were cast, 5 for residents of that district and 7 for non-residents, 5 of these being for residents of Denver.
In the Sixth District, 24 votes were cast, 11 being in favor of the residents in that district and 13 in favor of non-residents, 9 of whom lived in Denver.
In the Seventh District 61 votes were cast, 50 of which were for residents of the Seventh District and 11 for non-residents of that district; of these 10 lived in Denver.
In the Eighth District, 82 votes were cast, 61 of these were for residents of the Eighth District, 21 for residents of other sections of the State, 17 of these were cast for Denver men.
In the Ninth District, 21 votes were cast, 11 of these were for residents of the Ninth District and 10 for non-residents, 6 of whom were Denver men.
In the Tenth District, 53 votes were cast, 21 of which were cast for residents of the Tenth District and 32 for persons who lived in other sections of the State, 18 of them being residents of Denver.
In the Eleventh District, 23 votes were cast, 2 of them for residents of the Eleventh District and 21 for outsiders, 17 of whom were Denver men.
In the Twelfth District, 25 votes were cast, 19 of these were for residents of the Twelfth District, 6 for non-residents of that district, 4 of the 6 being Denver men.
In the Thirteenth District 35 votes were cast, of which 22 were in favor of local candidates and 13 for outsiders, 9 of these outsiders being residents of Denver.
The third ballot shows substantially the same situation with the exception that a large number of votes in each of the districts was cast for persons not living in the district of the residence of the voter.
We believe the plan is a success, and we believe it may be followed in various judicial districts and counties of the State with excellent results. In this connection, it may be said that several members of this committee have expressed the wish that every person actually seeking this nomination should, by that fact alone, be absolutely barred.
It has been suggested, too, that the present plan makes the elimination proceed too rapidly after it is once commenced. We submit for the consideration of the Association whether it may not be desirable to modify the present plan by permitting voting on the names of three or more candidates on the fifth ballot, rather than limiting the vote to two, as the Eighth Subdivision of the present plan provides.
By E. C. STIMSON,