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  • Independence panel explores the JNC process

    first_img Independence panel explores the JNC process Gary Blankenship Senior Editor The Judicial Independence Committee heard a range of sometimes contradictory testimony about the operation of Florida’s 26 judicial nominating commissions when it took comments during the Bar’s Annual Meeting.Panel members also discussed the committee’s broader charge of protecting the independence of the judiciary and the challenges it will face.“This issue will never go away; it comes up at different times in our history,” said committee Chair Jesse Diner. “There is always a tension among the three branches of government.”Most of the meeting was devoted to hearing from witnesses, mostly past members of JNCs, but also some lawyers and judges who had applied for judicial appointments. Those testifying generally agreed that there was no pervasive political pressure in the system either before or after the 2000 legislature changed the process for appointing JNC members.But they did agree that it was known that Gov. Jeb Bush’s office preferred JNCs to send at least six candidates for each vacancy, even if that meant some candidates were not the “best of the best.” The state constitution requires the JNCs submit between three and six names for each vacancy.Prior to 2000, the Bar appointed three JNC members; the governor chose three; and those six picked three nonlawyer members. In 2000, the legislature gave the governor all nine appointments, although four seats are picked from slates submitted by the Bar.Some committee members and witnesses said that change creates the perception, if not the reality, that political connections are important, if not paramount, in appointments.The first two speakers set the tone for the day. Eleventh Circuit Judge Scott Silverman said he had been through the JNC process both under the old and new systems. The only problem, he said, was when a commissioner during his first interview — under the old system — asked what he considered an inappropriate question.“I think JNC members are like a jury. When you pick a jury, you wonder how they are going to do their job. But when they go back and deliberate, they do their job,” Silverman said. “It’s like anything else. The vast majority of people in this system really care about this system.”Jacksonville attorney Buddy Schultz said he served on the Fourth Circuit JNC and covered the old and new methods. He said he liked the old procedure in which the Bar and gubernatorial appointees picked three public members, saying that added diversity.He also agreed most JNC members past and present are dedicated. But he added, “It was clear to me in the last year of my term that one of the members appointed by the governor’s office had an agenda.”That member asked what Schultz considered to be inappropriate questions of three candidates that appeared designed to attack their credibility and appropriateness for judicial office. Schultz said he later called all three candidates and apologized.Schultz said he also knew of an apparent attempt by the governor’s office to influence a JNC nomination for a favored candidate for a district court of appeal vacancy. He said although he was not involved with the First DCA JNC’s operations, he did get a call from the governor’s office about the candidate.“It became clear to me that his appointment was attempted to be orchestrated,” Schultz said. And after the candidate was not nominated by the JNC following some tough questioning, “It was clear to me there was also an orchestrated attempt to not only discredit the process, but the people involved in the process.”And so it went as the committee heard from several commentators, including:• Joseph “Scooter” Kinman, a former member and chair of the 13th JNC, whose service bridged the old and new JNC systems. He said the old system was susceptible to pressures from local sources, including a former chief judge, while the new system resulted in improper questions being asked.“What’s your religion? Do you go to church? What religious things are important to you? How do you feel about the death penalty?” Kinman recalled the questions. “Not, ‘would you follow the law, whatever the law is,’ but ‘what are your personal feelings on the death penalty?’”He also said one gubernatorial appointee continually mentioned the governor’s name, told other commissioners he had just had dinner with the governor, and sprinkled JNC discussions with claims of what the governor wanted.“I don’t know if this person was just name-dropping or the person really had such conversations with the governor, but the impression I had as the chair was that it was an attempt to exert influence that was not proper,” he said.Kinman also gave what became the catchphrase for the meeting, when he said, “As chair, it was my opinion that we were looking not for good qualified nominees, but that we were looking for the best of the best.”He also said that while the Bush administration was always pushing for six nominees for each vacancy, he found it rare that more than three or four were the “best of the best.”• Carol McGuire, former member and chair of the Second DCA JNC, said she was appointed by Gov. Bush right after the new system was instituted. During her term, she said the majority of that JNC probably went from being Democrats to Republicans, but she saw no change in the quality of its work.“I felt everyone did a good job on what our obligations are. . . to bring to the governor the most qualified candidates,” McGuire said. “They all had a belief in judicial independence and, number two, to send the best of the best.”She conceded, though, the JNC felt it had to send six names for each vacancy, which included more than just the “best of the best.”• Jacksonville attorney A. Wellington Barlow, who has both been interviewed in the JNC process and served on the Fourth Circuit JNC from 1991-95, said he saw problems with the old JNC system. He said it could be manipulated by raising a last-minute claim against an applicant during JNC deliberations, when the applicant had no chance to respond.He also said the process should not be used to end elections for judges, and said judicial canons appear more lenient on what judges seeking a merit retention vote can do than those running in contested elections.“Realistically, merit selection is often filled with hidden agendas, sandbagging, and introduction of derogatory information when the applicant cannot respond,” Barlow said. “It’s very, very important that the citizens maintain some degree of influence in these people [judges] who control our lives.”• Ray Abadin, a member of the Third DCA JNC, said he was proud of the way that commission recently tackled the filling of three vacancies at once, culling through a list of more than 60 applicants, conducting about three dozen interviews, and nominating 18 candidates to the governor.He noted that there was one candidate who was touted to be the governor’s choice for one of the vacancies, and that candidate wasn’t even invited for an interview. The only politics in the process, he added, were local people who wrote or called with derogatory information about individual candidates — information the panel had no trouble checking as part of its review.“Everyone who left our interview process thought they were going to be picked because it was so pleasant,” Abadin said.The only pressure was to pick 18 candidates and not fewer. In response to a question, Abadin said the JNC decided to submit the 18 finalists as a group, rather than try to set slates of six for each vacancy.“We just thought it was too cumbersome for us, and we decided to do 18 and let the governor figure it out,” he said.• West Palm Beach attorney Sherry Hyman went through the JNC process in 2001 and 2002 when she applied for county judge vacancies. Although the interview process was good, she said the overall result seemed to hinge on partisan politics.“I do feel going through the JNC, especially now where you have more and more people selected because they belong to a particular political party, is political,” she said.Allowing the governor to name all of the JNC members is “definitely a chilling effect,” Hyman added, saying she’s not willing to apply again, even though she was nominated but not appointed on her second attempt.Among other judicial independence issues discussed, the committee heard from Rick Levinstein, president of the Martin County Bar. Levinstein said he is working to share a Martin County bar program of reaching out to the public to explain the importance of judicial independence, including showing jury pools a videotape of local judges talking about that issue.“We don’t see this as a political issue,” Levinstein said. “This is a government issue, not a political issue. I think these attacks are an attack on the great foundation of this country. . . and if we don’t respond to them, we harm the soul of the system.”Diner, the committee’s chair, said the Bar is having increasing difficulty in finding people to apply for the JNC seats in which the Bar nominates a slate from which the governor makes the final appointment. He said some candidates have been repeatedly nominated, but not appointed, and now believe it is for political reasons.Diner said from letters the committee has received there is at least a perception of less fairness in the judicial selection process because the governor selects all JNC members, instead of having the membership split among gubernatorial, Bar, and public members.Immediate past Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson, who created the committee and is serving on it, agreed, saying, “People are not willing to put themselves out to have their names go up for the JNCs. People can say, ‘Look, here’s what happened for the last three or four years.’”Members also discussed their concerns about attacks on the judiciary, adding that is part of their task.“I’m glad that our mission is not just the judicial nominating process; I’m glad it’s broad. I’m glad that it incorporates that our judiciary has been attacked unfairly,” said committee member Jay Cohen.Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente, in a brief appearance, encouraged the committee to seek out coalitions with other groups. She noted that in the recent court funding debates at the legislature, the business community provided strong support for the courts. Likewise, she said, businesses realize the need for accessible, fair, and independent courts in which to resolve their disputes. Independence panel explores the JNC process August 1, 2005 Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

  • Inclusion starts at the top

    first_imgThe only way for any diversity and inclusion program to survive and be effective is through leadership commitment. My credit union, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, Chattanooga, has 13 members on the senior leadership team, including president/CEO Todd Fortner, CCE, a CUES member.We have our asset/liability management meeting, which is now virtual, every Tuesday to discuss ideas, provide updates, and find solutions to existing or potential problems. During the weekly discussions, Fortner will present a question or a problem and ask each of us for our input. He wants honest, creative feedback and open dialogue to weigh the pros and cons of every decision.Effective leaders know that you need to surround yourself with people who will be truthful, authentic and willing to challenge your ideas to find better-fitted solutions. If those around you are in constant agreement with you, it is time to surround yourself with new people. Innovation is stifled by groupthink. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

  • Erickson: Badgers have Bulldogs right where they want them

    first_imgHome has always been a gracious and caring place for the Badgers, as Madison has been exceptionally cruel to top-ranked teams.If you somehow forgot, here are a few reminders: The Wisconsin football team was undefeated at home for the second straight season. Men’s basketball did not lose a single game at home last year and continued that streak through the first four games of this season. Between Nov. 28 and Oct. 16, the women’s hockey team did not only stay undefeated at home (14 games), they didn’t lose a single game (32), tying the NCAA record.While home has clearly always been friendly for the Badgers, it has also been friendly for the men’s hockey team, which is 7-3-0 at home this season. Three of those wins came against top-five teams as the Badgers swept then-No. 5 North Dakota and split the series with then-No. 1 Minnesota.For a team that has yet to win on the road, playing at home has certainly been a nice comfort, particularly given the fact that they’ve been able to play so many top-ranked teams at home so far this season.Following a recent tradition – instilled by the combination of Wisconsin and at-the-time-No. 1 Ohio State in both football and basketball last season as they each upset OSU in Madison 31-18 and 71-67 respectively – men’s hockey split a series with then-No. 1 Minnesota at the Kohl Center in November.But Madison’s power to upset No. 1 teams will be put to the test again this weekend as No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth rolls into town.After winning the national championship last season, the Bulldogs did not have a very hot start, but have since climbed their way to the top.It might sound backward, but Wisconsin could not be facing Minnesota-Duluth at a better time.The last time the Badgers saw some action was over Thanksgiving weekend when they swept Mercyhurst 5-2 and 7-2.During the series, UW did not skate with a single veteran forward. Injuries continued to pile up for the Badgers, but a productive series from junior defenseman Justin Schultz and sophomore forward Mark Zengerle helped the Badgers through.So while the Badgers are still on a confidence high from the sweep over Mercyhurst, the timeliness of facing the Bulldogs now lies in the simple fact that UW has had extra preparation for the reigning national champions.Wisconsin has had a chance to focus more on its game plan and get a few names back on the roster.With a week off, the Badgers were able to heal up some of their ailments. The time also allowed head coach Mike Eaves a chance to push his guys that extra bit harder. It’s been reported via @BadgerMHockey that not a single puck was in sight during last Saturday’s practice; all the guys did was skate.Freshman defender Jake McCabe is expected to be in the lineup after a freak accident on the bench from a skate to the hand left him with a severed ligament and in need of surgery.Before the injury, McCabe started the season paired with junior defensemen standout Justin Schultz and, at the time, was the lone freshman in the starting lineup.The Badgers will also be welcoming Sean Little back to the lineup, who will help bring greater experience and depth to the forwards. Regardless, UW still lacks veteran leadership among forwards as juniors Derek Lee and Ryan Little are still hurt.But Eaves hasn’t been thankful for the time solely for the chance to get some more guys healthy – it also gave him the opportunity to focus his team on itself and grow without a threat of defeat hanging over its head, rather than preparing for another series.“We pushed each other in practice,” Eaves said in his Monday press conference. “We did a lot of competitive drills. We had high tempo drills. We covered a lot of details, and so I think we walk away from last week from the rink feeling good about ourselves and ready to continue on this week and get ready for Duluth.”With the combination of their soaring confidence, the undeniable home ice advantage and the extra week to focus on their own game, Wisconsin is very much capable of its third top-five upset this season.But don’t remind them of that. They’re just looking forward for the chance to play a game again, hoping Madison has just a little more magic in store.Kelly is a junior majoring in journalism. Do you think the Badgers will ever be able to win on the road this season? Or does Madison just have a special power? Let her know at [email protected] or tweet @kellymerickson.last_img read more

  • Fit-again Chesters retains European title

    first_img Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park, Shropshire & Herefordshire) became the first player to successfully defend the European Amateur Championship when he completed back-to-back victories over the breezy Duke’s Course at St Andrews. Chesters, the first Englishman to win the European crown in nine years when he won by a shot a year ago at El Prat in Spain, carded a final round 69 for 282, two under par, and a three stroke winning margin from Max Roehrig from Germany and Ireland’s Gary Hurley. What made Chesters’ victory all the more remarkable was that a few days earlier he had withdrawn from the first round of the English Amateur Championship at Saunton with food poisoning. The Shropshire man, (image © Kenny Smith) who will turn 25 on August 25th, now earns automatic entry into next year’s Open Championship at St Andrews, having missed the cut by a shot this year at Hoylake. However, it leaves him with a decision to make as he has been thinking of turning professional and going to the European Tour Qualifying School next month. “I’m going to have to have a think,” said Chesters. “The Open at St Andrews would be hard to turn down, and it’s one of my favourite courses. I enjoyed Hoylake so much, as The Open is special. I’ve had worse problems (to think about).” Among the 18 groups who returned early on Saturday morning to complete their third rounds after Friday’s weather delay due to torrential rain, thunder and lightning, Chesters finished his remaining 12 holes and posted a fine two-under-par 69 to hit the front on three under par after 54 holes in Fife, securing a three-stroke lead. On a pleasant final afternoon – despite gusts of wind that reached 30 mph at times – Chesters produced a steady closing round, holding off the challenge of Roehrig, Hurley and Italian Enrico Di Nitto. Chesters “hardly hit a bad shot” over the opening 16 holes of his final round, securing a five-shot lead with two holes to play thanks to birdies at the 15th and 16th. However, he four-putted the par-3 17th for a double bogey, before making bogey on the last to see his winning margin cut to three. On a demanding final day, he played 30 holes in total. England international Chesters, the only player to finish under par, added: “I played good all day, until those last two holes, but I knew I had some shots in hand, thankfully. There are a lot of good names on the trophy and to have won it twice is amazing.” Leading final scores: 282 A Chesters (Hawkstone Park) 69 72 69 72 285 M Roehrig (Germany) 70 72 72 71, G Hurley (Ireland) 66 72 76 71 Other England scores: 287 B Stow (Rushmore) 67 71 76 73 290 H Casey (Enfield) 73 72 74 71, T Anderson (Brocket Hall) 74 69 71 76 291 R Evans (Wellingborough) 73 73 73 72, D Brown (Bedale) 69 76 74 72, A Chapman (Windermere) 71 72 79 69 10 Aug 2014 Fit-again Chesters retains European title last_img read more

  • Warriors’ Draymond Green has to be extra careful in Game 6

    first_img[vemba-video id=”van/sc/2019/06/12/bang_3c92ea5a-a040-4e1e-868c-41f511c99498″] OAKLAND — Draymond Green vowed he had changed – for himself, for his son, for his team.After accumulating four technical fouls before Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals – seven in the playoffs earns a one-game suspension – Green hated what he saw when he watched tape, a player pouting, complaining and wasting energy on things he couldn’t change. His son, Draymond Jr., just two and a half years old, …last_img

  • SA plans development aid agency

    first_img28 October 2010 South Africa is set to create a US-style development aid agency as it seeks to play a more prominent role as a major donor country in Africa, says International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.She made the announcement at a regional heads of mission conference in Nairobi, Kenya during a three-day foreign policy session, Business Day reported on Wednesday.The South African Development Partnership Agency, which has already been approved by the Cabinet, will operate along the same lines as USAid, an initiative that provides developing countries with funding for economic and humanitarian projects as part of the US’s foreign policy objectives.“This agency will not only enhance our contribution in institutional and capacity building on the continent, but also ensure that our post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts are centrally co-ordinated,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.She said the agency would be established before the end of the 2010/11 financial year.Ministerial spokesman Saul Molobi said on Tuesday that the department was still drawing up a budget and could not immediately say how much the project would cost.Through the multimillion-rand African Renaissance Fund, managed by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, South Africa is one of the largest development aid providers in Africa.The African Renaissance Fund and all its activities will eventually be absorbed by the new aid agency, which will reduce bureaucracy and duplication. Sapalast_img read more

  • Olympic silver medalist says she also has testosterone condition

    first_imgPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting FILE – In this file photo dated Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba reacts after winning a Women’s 800m semifinal during the World Athletics Championships in London. Olympic and world championships medalist in the 800 meters, Niyonsaba, acknowledged in an interview with the Olympic Channel Wednesday April 17, 2019, that she has the hyperandrogenism condition that gives her high levels of naturally occurring testosterone.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, FILE)Caster Semenya’s closest rival also has a condition that gives her high levels of naturally occurring testosterone and would be affected if track and field’s governing body implements a contentious rule to control hormone levels.Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who won silver medals behind Semenya in the 800 meters at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 world championships, said in an interview with the Olympic Channel that she has hyperandrogenism, the first time she’s spoken about it publicly.ADVERTISEMENT Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics PLAY LIST 00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Blake Griffin misses another playoff game due to sore knee Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power grid Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated LATEST STORIES Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hasslescenter_img And echoing the argument of Semenya, the 25-year-old Niyonsaba called the IAAF’s intention to force some female athletes to lower their natural testosterone levels or be barred from certain events “discrimination.”“I know people talk, talk, talk about me,” Niyonsaba said. “You can’t stop people talking. I like to hear people talking. That is motivation.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“I didn’t choose to be born like this. What am I? I’m created by god. So, (if) someone has more questions about it, maybe (they) can ask god. I love myself. I will still be Francine. I will not change.”Referring to the rule, Niyonsaba said: “For me, it’s about discrimination. It doesn’t make sense.” The IAAF wants Semenya, Niyonsaba and other female athletes with high levels of natural testosterone to lower them — either through medication or surgery — to be eligible to compete in events from 400 meters to the mile at top track meets like the Olympics. The IAAF argues that female runners with abnormally high testosterone levels have an unfair advantage.Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion from South Africa, is challenging that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the decision, now expected at the end of the month, could have serious ramifications for female runners.Semenya, Niyonsaba and possibly other medal-winning athletes could be forced to take hormone-suppressing medication for the remainder of their careers or give up their favored events. The IAAF has records that show numerous athletes have the condition but has never identified them because confidential medical details are involved.Previously, Semenya and Indian sprinter Dutee Chand were the only top athletes to say they had hyperandrogenism, and Semenya only said it publicly recently in written statements regarding her case against the IAAF.Semenya and Niyonsaba finishing 1-2 in the 800 at the last two major meets appears to strengthen the IAAF’s stance that hyperandrogenism gives runners a significant and unfair advantage. Niyonsaba rejected that.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue “To get on the podium is not easy,” she said. “It’s hard work. It’s a lot of sacrifice … Running to get good results is just about training. Nothing else.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more