In my youth, I admired the people who were elected to the Legislature. But after reading Stuart Bishop’s self-promoting Oct. 17 letter, “Reforms needed to bring fairness, balance to La. civil justice system,” I must revise my opinion.
Bishop relies upon fables spun by Big Business and insurers to attack and hobble Louisiana’s civil justice system. Bishop touts the positions of LABI and foreign special-interest groups that would allow these companies to escape civil liability in this state. When Bishop speaks, I hear the words of New York City and Washington, D.C., lobbyists.
Bishop has never faced his own voters; he was unopposed in his only campaign. Perhaps therefore he does not appreciate that each judge in Louisiana, from a Supreme Court justice down to your town’s justice of the peace, is elected by us. If they serve well, they are re-elected by us.
In many states, judges are appointed. This means they beg for their jobs in backroom deals with politicians like Bishop who select them. If those judges want to remain in office, they are again subject to the whims of politicians like Bishop. The voters have no power to say who will judge them.
Louisiana is in many ways one of the most pro-business states. Punitive damages are rarely awarded here. In many other states, punitive damages are an imminent nightmare for businesses and insurance companies. Domestic and foreign industries favor our business climate enough to relocate here. Are we just like Idaho and Indiana? Should we be just like Oregon and Ohio? No, thank goodness no.
Big Business has captured many of our legislators. It wants our judges, too. Special-interest groups do not like Louisiana’s courts because they cannot make us vote for the judges they want.
Our courts are protected by our constitution and our citizens, not by the Legislature. Personally, I feel much safer standing before a judge elected by citizens than a judge chosen by a foreign business or insurance company.
Peter M. Meisner