October 12, 2007

Quick, What's the Difference Between a Magistrate and a Judge...

Carroll Andrew Morse

...the answer is, if I may paraphrase Common Cause of Rhode Island using the words of Henry Hill from The Music Man: T that stands for "trouble" which rhymes with P that stands for "patronage".

T also could stand for "traffic tribunal" (twice!). According to Edward Fizpatrick in today’s Projo, Common Cause would like to know why the process for selecting traffic tribunal judges should be different from the process for selecting other judges in Rhode Island…

Candidates for the new job did not go through the Judicial Nominating Commission process required for state judges. Instead, the Assembly placed the appointment in the hands of Williams, who created a screening committee that interviewed the five applicants during public sessions last month. The committee did not eliminate any of the candidates and sent Williams the five names….

Common Cause of Rhode Island has criticized the creation of new magistrate jobs, saying they represent a way of appointing politically connected people and getting around the judicial merit-selection process that voters approved in 1994. Guglietta’s appointment represents a clear-cut example of that concern, said Christine Lopes, executive director of the government watchdog group.

[Nominee William R. Guglietta] might be qualified, but appointing someone connected to powerful politicians without Judicial Nominating Commission review is bound to raise questions, Lopes said. “Why not go through judicial merit selection?” she asked. “Why go through a different process?”

Operation Clean Government has expressed similar concern over this issue for several years now.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Did Common Cause raise the same concerns when Lincoln Almond's son was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate?

Posted by: brassband at October 12, 2007 9:48 AM

Can you say: Magistrate (for life) Harwood?

--Did Common Cause raise the same concerns when Lincoln Almond's son was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate?

I don't believe Common Cause involves itself with FEDERAL appointments. Perhaps you should go ask the members of our congressional delegation.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at October 12, 2007 2:50 PM

Congressional delegation? The irony is that U.S. Magistrates are complete patronage appointments for the federal judges . . . they are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Our federal district court, by the way, could stand some scrutiny as it relates to work level and productivity.

Many days go by when individual judges have nothing on their calendars . . . NOTHING!

Posted by: brassband at October 12, 2007 7:21 PM

I wasn't aware how completely the selection of magistrates in this state is tied to patronage and divorced from qualification.

Whether Democrats or Republicans control the process, this is intrinsically Trouble. For instance, if the selection of a magistrate is not on the basis of merit, what is the basis? Have people done things to influence that selection and possibly weight it towards themselves? Let's come out and say it: was consideration of some kind exchanged?

Common Cause and OCG are right; this needs to change.

Posted by: Monique at October 13, 2007 5:45 PM

Williams gets his courthouse from the legislature and the legislature gets their boy a sweet gig from Williams.
Welcome to Rhode Island the insider deal state.

Posted by: Tim at October 14, 2007 9:15 AM

Tim, this has nothing to do with what you're talking about so just forget I mentioned it:

"Twelve days later, we now know, the judiciary hired Stephen Montalbano, the 19-year-old son of Senate President Joseph Montalbano, for a state job, over 49 other applicants."


Posted by: Monique at October 14, 2007 3:49 PM

Having just taken a swipe at Tim in another thread, I stop in to say that I could not agree more with him here and with Monique. (Just please, Tim, don't spoil it by telling me that only Liberals/Democrats would do this!)

Posted by: Thomas at October 15, 2007 9:49 PM

all I want to know is.. if a change of venue can be used to go before a jury instead of dealing with a magistrate who has limited powers to resolve a comp. case? anyone know?? Dale

Posted by: Dale Bigelow at July 13, 2008 7:11 PM
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