They’re not politicians, so they shouldn’t act like them.
OF ALL the ways in which America is exceptional, its practice of electing judges is one of the least obvious and most striking. The spectacle of someone who has the power to hand out death sentences making stump speeches, seeking endorsements and raising funds has long seemed odd to outsiders. Alexis de Tocqueville, whose travels around the country coincided with the spread of judicial elections, predicted that “these innovations will, sooner or later, have disastrous results.” It is a view shared by many of the judges running for office around the country.
Judicial elections are becoming a lot like any other. Tennessee’s recent race was a good example. A few days before the poll Gary Wade, the chief justice on the state’s Supreme Court, sat in his office, a room enlivened by a bearskin rug on the floor, complete with paws and snarling mouth. Mr Wade had faced the voters five times before, but this election was the first time he had to do any actual campaigning. Tennessee’s race became unexpectedly political: the three judges up for retention were hit with adverts denouncing them as Obamacare-loving liberals, though their court has never ruled on the subject. The judges responded by raising over $1m to buy adverts of their own.
There are lots of things you can do by virtue of your job as a circuit court judge.You can (in no particular order of importance- and BTW the following is not directed at any particular judge…if the robe fits…).
Which means here’s what you can’t do:
Have your bailiff close your courtroom to anyone at anytime without proper notice to the media and a hearing on an issue; tell people how to dress when they come to court (wearing a shirt that says “fuck you” has been held to be an expression of free speech under the First Amendment – which is part of the Constitution, which is a legal document that defines the ….oh never mind it’s a bit complicated),
You also CANNOT take personal property of people, without following Florida’s Forfeiture Statute (and it’s not entirely clear a member of the judiciary can be a “seizing agency” under the statute. ).
Which means that in order to seize the personal property of an individual, there must be an allegation that the property was used to violate Florida’s contraband laws; see, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 932.703 (West)
(1)(a) Any contraband article, vessel, motor vehicle, aircraft, other personal property, or real property used in violation of any provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or in, upon, or by means of which any violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act has taken or is taking place, may be seized and shall be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. Contraband is defined as, inter alia: Any personal property, including, but not limited to, any vessel, aircraft, item, object, tool, substance, device, weapon, machine, vehicle of any kind, money, securities, books, records, research, negotiable instruments, or currency, which was used or was attempted to be used as an instrumentality in the commission of, or in aiding or abetting in the commission of, any felony, whether or not comprising an element of the felony, or which is acquired by proceeds obtained as a result of a violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. ~ Fla. Stat. Ann. § 932.701 (West)