The Lopez Torres lawsuit, which seeks to overturn New York's current system of nominating trial court judges by political party convention, has met with success so far in federal courts (see Sept. 7, 2006). There don't seem to be many New Yorkers eager to defend on principle today's practice of clubhouse selection of judges, with its sometimes-scandalous results. Supporters of the lawsuit have been circulating a ten-page summary of their case which advances an additional argument likely to be of particular interest to readers of this site:
2. The system results in clubhouse justice.
The unaccountable political party leaders in New York City have created a tort liability system that studies have found inhospitable to business. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Greater New York Metropolitan Area is one of the five jurisdictions in the nation with the �least fair and reasonable litigation environments,� just behind the infamous Madison County, Illinois. The Pacific Research Institute ranked the state 48th in its 2006 U.S. Tort Liability Index. And the American Tort Reform Association placed New York City on its list of areas that �have characteristics consistent with Judicial Hellholes.� For judicial selection in New York, loyalty to the political party leadership counts for more than quality.
The Brennan Center -- flagship of the liberal Left in New York legal politics, and a key backer of the lawsuit -- posts nearly the entire text of the summary on its site (PDF), but for some reason omits the paragraph that discusses the liability climate and quotes the views of the U.S. Chamber, ATRA, etc. C'mon, Brennanites, don't throw away some of your best arguments!