Ideas for Advocate coverage of courts, more
Jan. 25, 2012 at 8 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
In a recent blog, editor Chris Cobler posed the question, "What would you add to ethics board discussion about civil court coverage?" The blog goes on to outline some of the steps that will be taken in order to increase at least the appearance of fairness in the coverage. While I agree with all of the points listed, there are a few I would add.
First, I would ask that the Advocate give equally prominent coverage of all cases (civil and criminal) involving all candidates for public office, including incumbents. Secondly, I would extend that scrutiny to all members of governmental (or associative) boards that possess the ability of significance. This would include the Victoria Economic Development Corp., the Airport Commission, the Port Commission, the Citizens Medical Center Board, etc. These community members handle public funds and can make decisions that are of extreme importance to the community.
Finally, I would add an element that is totally absent from the current analysis of the ethics board - the conduct of the judges. Don't the people of Victoria want to know how often and under what circumstances their judges' decisions are overturned by the 13th Court of Appeals? Isn't it newsworthy when judges are forcibly removed from cases through the recusal process? How about an in-depth analysis of the "open docket" system? It is my strong opinion that, in some cases, it would be prudent to audit the frequency of some attorneys' presence in front of certain judges.
This should not be viewed as a way to shame judges. After all, they are public servants, and they have a duty to their constituents of transparency and objectivity. This becomes even more heightened in the cases of judges because the very nature of the judiciary is contrasted with the other two branches of government in the manner in which power is concentrated. The very foundation of the judiciary is confidence in those who occupy the bench. For this very reason, if the Victoria Advocate is to assume the role of the "fourth estate," coverage of judges is imperative.
Matt Ocker, Victoria