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Judge-pickers have a perfect score This year was going to be different, vowed the head of the nation’s oldest metropolitan bar group. “Voters don’t have to guess or take a shot in the dark when they choose judges,” said Audrey C. Talley, chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. “They can make an informed choice.” The association set up a voters’ guide on its Web site, with pop-up windows that gave a thumbs-up or thumbs-down for each candidate. Two weeks before the Nov. 4 election, Talley explained in a press release how much time and energy had gone into the independent, nonpartisan ratings. A 29-member commission of lawyers and nonlawyers reviewed the findings of a 120-member investigative team. Among those making final calls on judicial fitness and integrity were the chief public defender, chief judges of the Common Pleas and Municipal courts and representatives of Asian, Hispanic and African-American bars. The bar’s Campaign for Qualified Judges used last-minute radio spots, print ads and targeted e-mails. For each of the seven candidates the association deemed unqualified, it offered qualified alternatives. And the winners were-you guessed it. Out of three Court of Common Pleas judges not recommended for retention, all won new 10-year terms. The one Municipal Court judge not recommended for retention was re-elected. And, yes, each of three new candidates for seats on the Court of Common Pleas who were rated “not recommended” also were victorious. Don’t even knock Although public relations folk generally advise against saying “no comment,” Benzie County (Mich.) Prosecutor Anthony Cicchelli might want to consider that option in the future. In the heat of two nasty murder investigations, on Oct. 29 Cicchelli posted the following on the door to what is commonly referred to as his reception area: “All Members of Media are Not welcome. Uninvited entry may constitute a criminal trespass. Don’t even knock.” The Traverse City Record-Eagle ran a photo of the notice, signed by Cicchelli, along with an account of how one of its reporters did knock. And got yelled at. In conclusion, the newspaper reports there’s another reason the prosecutor may feel stressed: “Sheriff Bob Blank told the Record-Eagle this month that Cicchelli was accused of ticket-fixing after an investigation by the Frankfort Police Department. The case remains under investigation, Attorney General’s spokesman Matt Davis said Wednesday.” Comps on hold Dollywood has announced that it’s sorry, but as of Jan. 1 its lawyers have advised it to stop being so nice to some handicapped people. Singer Dolly Parton’s theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains has been giving free passes-the tab is usually around $40-to people who are blind, deaf or stuck in wheelchairs. The park boasts it’s the most popular attraction in Tennessee. Spokesman Pete Owens estimates that 1% to 2% of its visitors were being comped “because we knew the experience just couldn’t be the same for them.” But last February, a nonprofit Florida advocacy group, Access Now Inc., and a local woman, Jan English, sued in federal court in Knoxville, Tenn. The claim: If obviously handicapped people are comped, the less-obviously ones must be too. “There are a number of issues, but in general the suit alleges discrimination under ADA,” the Americans With Disabilities Act, said Dollywood attorney Daniel M. Gass, declining to say more. Owens said Dollywood’s staff lacks the training to judge degrees of disability. A settlement is unlikely, he says. Meanwhile, he says, the park plans to calculate its comp-ticked losses and make equivalent donations to charity.

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