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East Stroudsburg of Pennsylvania’s Judicial Forum: 2009

By Christopher T. Brooks, East Stroudsburg of Pennsylvania

Our program set out to clarify the process by which judges in
Pennsylvania were selected, what criteria there was to be on the ballot
and a general discussion about electing the judiciary anywhere. After a
brief introduction to the purpose of the American Democracy Project, and
the members of the Panel, which included Judge Jonathan Mark, Judge
Stephen Baratta, and Mr. Wes Niemoczynski, a series of questions were
posed to the panel. Some of those questions and answers (summarized)
included but were not limited to:

1.      What made you decide to run for a seat on the court?
All three respondents stated that they ran out of a desire to help
ensure that justice could be brought to those who have been wronged and
those who have wronged them.

2.      Many voters do not feel that it is important to vote in state
and local elections. Can you take a moment to explain why these voters
may be misinformed? Mr. Niemoczynski responded to this question by saying that local elections are some of the most important elections that people can participate in. While national elections are also very important, local elections, such as those for township supervisors can have some of the
most immediate impacts. This is because the elected officials are
directly involved with individual communities.

3.      Do you feel that Pennsylvania’s system of electing their judges
is the best way to select judicial officials?
All three members stated that electing judges is the best system
available because it prevents the political appointment of judicial
officials, who may be beholden to the government that appointed them. By
electing our judges, we help to ensure that their rulings will not be
affected by anything but the letter of the law.

After the questions were finished the floor was opened up to the
audience. The members asked some very good questions of the three men
who were present, which led to the conclusion of our program, one which
we hope to do again in the future.

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