This just in: George W. Bush is not a lawyer (Nor was
Stanley M. Morris
smmorris at RMI.NET
Wed Aug 16 11:11:20 PDT 2000
Colorado's County Court judges handle all misdemeanors, preliminary hearings
and civil cases up to $10k. They need not be lawyers but must be a resident of
the county where they sit. There are a few counties that have no lawyers
resident (or as inhabitants, if you prefer), so those county judges are
necessarily laymen. In my experience, the lay judges are not so much concerned
with the legal niceties, as producing a fair result. I think, to take on Jim's
"dropout CEO"example, it is not necessary to be a CPA to make financial
decisions but Bill Gates had to know a whole bunch about computers to build
Microsoft. Similarly, the number of legal determinations made by the S. Ct far
outweigh the number of "justice" decisions made by the court. I believe they
would end up with more "justice" rulings which strikes me as passing strange or
we would have to pay for a Justice who would have to "Read for the Law."
Although -- that might be a wonderful (or terrible - certainly interesting) law
Stan Morris, Atty
Cortez, CO 81321
At 08:06 PM 08/15/2000 -0400, James Maule wrote:
>>>> Sanford Levinson <SLevinson at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU> 08/15/00 08:00PM >>>
> If we have no problem with
>this, then does this suggest that we might benefit, for example, from
>having a non-lawyer on the Supreme Court? I.e., can experience or
>Washingtonian virtue outweight whatever is provided by professional
>education? Or is the justification of the lawyer's monopoly the
>non-constitutional part of the docket?
>A tidbit that might be useful. In Pennsylvania there is an office called
>district magistrate (which replaced justice of the peace). The position is
>filled by election (as are the other judicial offices in the other courts).
>One need not be a lawyer. In these courts (unlike the others), a significant
>number of the office holders are not lawyers. I don't know the statistics on
>the nominees, and I don't know who tends to win in lawyer v nonlawyer
>contests, though party affiliation and coat-tailing is significant in most
>of our local elections (other than to some extent school boards).
>There is nothing to suggest that the nonlawyer magistrates perform any
>better or worse than the lawyer magistrates, or that they have any more
>difficulty making informed decisions. They attend various training programs,
>including ongoing refresher and update courses. They deal with rather
>limited areas (summary criminal offenses, "small claims" in the contract and
>tort areas, and criminal arraignments, perhaps a few other minor things).
>Their decisions are reviewable, so in that sense there's a big check in the
>checks and balances.
>Pennsylvania is not unique. In London I met a person who was the equivalent
>of a district magistrate (England, too, has created a new name for justice
>of the peace or its equivalent), and he was not a lawyer.
>I think there have been studies dealing with lawyer v. nonlawyer as a judge.
>They might shed some interesting light on the question.
>Professional education probably isn't the only path to professional success.
>Remember all those "school drop out CEO" stories? Anecdotal, but it's the
>anecdote (in sufficient numbers) that ends up driving social change.
>A nonlawyer on the Supreme Court? What a refreshing idea, but what a risk
>unless the person were exceptional in other ways and had managed to learn
>the law through some other experience.
>Professor of Law
>Villanova University School of Law
>Villanova, PA 19085
>maule at law.villanova.edu
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