Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Robert Brown appeared on Talk Business Sunday night on Fox 16 to discuss a series of election reforms being considered in judicial races.
A task force of Arkansas lawyers and judges have been studying several reforms and improvements to judicial elections that would hopefully allow Arkansas to avoid well-funded negative and misleading judicial campaigns seen in other states.
“We're worried about this situation coming to Arkansas. It hasn't come here yet, but we'd hate the situation where a false and misleading ad worked to elect a justice or a judge,” Justice Brown said.
The task force has pushed for the following changes, most of which would not cost any money.
- A voter's guide of judicial candidates that would include biographical information
- A pledge from all judicial candidates to disavow false ads, especially if run by independent groups or Super PACs
- A watchdog task force that would issue rapid responses to ads or claims deemed dishonest
- Recusals by judges with excessive campaign contributions
“It's a no-brainer,” he said. “We equate it to mom
and apple pie. I mean this is something that the voting public should want,” Brown said.
He noted that this fall the task force would be presenting a report and seeking support from the Arkansas Bar Association and a judges' organization. If no objections are raised, the group hopes to push for some of the reforms by the 2014 campaign cycle.
“That's what we're shooting for,” said Brown. “Hopefully, we'll be up and running by the 2014 elections.”
Talk Business host Roby Brock proposed a forum where judicial candidates at the appellate level — the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court — would appear before a Joint Judiciary Committee of the state legislature and field a series of common questions for video, audio and transcript histories for the public and media to review. The questions could range on topics, such as how to handle precedent and constitutional interpretation without comment on specific issues, such as abortion, taxes, or other hot-button areas that judicial canons now discourage.
You can access the full interview below.