Saturday, November 17, 2007

Supreme Court candidates says Star edit made mistake

A portion of The Star's Thursday editorial The case of partisan justice is being disputed.

State Supreme Court candidate Deborah Bell Paseur takes issue with a section of the edit which had her standing in front of a sign pointing out the party-line split of a decision friendly to an oil company.

The editorial based this on an account given in an Associated Press news story.
Democratic Supreme Court candidate Deborah Bell Paseur kicked off her campaign Tuesday standing in front of a supporter holding an "8-1" sign criticizing the Supreme Court's Exxon Mobil decision.

The judge says it didn't happen. Star editors have contacted the AP to straighten this out. In the meantime, here's a letter giving Deborah Bell Paseur's version of events:

November 16, 2007

Dear Editor,

Last week, I announced my candidacy for justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, which resulted in your Nov. 15 editorial, “The Case of Partisan Justice.”
I agree with much of what was said, especially your final conclusion that Alabama needs laws that require “interest groups to report every dime they contribute to political campaigns and candidates.”
One small, but very important detail, however, was not accurate. I never stood in front of a sign that said “8-1.” I had my campaign review the video footage to make certain of this.
Before my announcement, there was a crowd of people assembled at the Supreme Court building, and some of them arrived with signs. Apparently one of those signs referred to the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Exxon case and the fact that eight Republicans ruled one way with the lone Democrat on the other side. Before I came out of the building, however, one of my campaign workers saw the sign in question and had it removed. I do not know who brought it, but, again, it was not behind me when I announced.
Whoever brought that sign did not know why I am running for the Alabama Supreme Court, or they would not have done so. Put simply and in words from your editorial, it is to try and change what you accurately described as a “decade of partisan wrangling.”
I am not partisan. I don’t consider myself a politician. I’m a judge. I have been a judge for almost 28 years and have never faced opposition in my re-election campaigns. I am known for being fair and for treating everyone equally. I first ran for office, because a judge was abusing his position and mistreating people, and as a former police officer, I felt compelled to defend the integrity of the court. If I had lost, my ability to practice law in my county would have been hampered, but my first concern was for the court.
Now, I am running for our Supreme Court for similar reasons. The contentiousness, the unseemly spending, and the advertising by special interest groups undermines the integrity of our courts and is eroding public trust in our judicial system. Running under the “8-1” banner might highlight that anxiety. It might even win votes. But it is a partisan message that does not help restore the dignity deserving of the office I seek. I am not a politician. I am a judge.

Respectfully Submitted,
Deborah Bell Paseur

More later. For now let me emphasize that the editorial's main point still stands
A decade of partisan wrangling has left Alabama with a judicial system where justices are inclined to interpret the law according to legal standards and philosophies that reflect the interests and attitudes of the groups that paid for the campaigns that got the justices elected in the first place. And there is not much to suggest that special interests will support legislation to change this.