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Judicial pay I read with great interest American Bar Association President Karen Mathis’ commentary asserting that “[l]awyers at all levels must continually make the case to state and federal lawmakers for proper judicial pay” ( Better Judicial Pay: Lawyers must take the lead, NLJ April 30). I respectfully reject Ms. Mathis’ call that I, as an attorney, or any of my colleagues should spend any time advocating for higher judicial pay. There are many other better things that attorneys should be doing to improve the administration of justice in this country. Throughout my career, I have heard similar pleas from the bench and various bar politicians. These assertions have always lacked, and continue to lack, reason. They generally lament that a judge could make a lot more money in private practice or that there is an incongruity in the market when new associates at top 50 law firms can make nearly as much as a federal judge. While these assertions certainly may be true in some instances, they are not always (or even mostly) the case. First, these arguments presume, without any basis, that all, or nearly all, lawyers are motivated principally by money. They presume, again without basis, that the best lawyers in this country make the most money in the profession. They presume, without basis, that a qualified attorney with 25 years’ experience will not take a job that pays $165,000 with a guaranteed pension that pays $165,000 after only 15 years of service. These arguments unfairly disparage the many highly competent and talented attorneys who make less than $165,000 per year in private, government and public interest practices by insinuating that they are not as talented as their more highly paid counterparts. In reality, if someone turns down a federal judgeship because of the pay, the salary actually helped keep an inappropriate candidate off the bench. Second, by making a “merit pay” argument, these proponents conveniently forget that federal judges do not get their jobs from a “merit selection” process. While there are undeniably some very talented judges, the selection and confirmation process is completely political. Merit selection would in fact restore some of the prestige within the profession associated with the position � prestige that has been eroded by the increasingly overt political nature of judicial appointments � and do more to attract qualified people to the position than any salary increase. Third, life tenure was not provided in the Constitution to encourage judges to remain judges until their deaths. Instead, it was provided to insure a level of judicial independence by protecting a judge from any retribution for any judicial decision. Life tenure continues to serve that purpose. The salary level has absolutely nothing to do with the life-tenure guarantee. Unaccompanied by reform to the appointment process, salary increases (at least ones addressing these purported “problems”) will only further diminish the quality of the bench by making the position a more sought-after political plum. Don Mizerk, Chicago Trial consultants The article “Who put poison in the jury pool?” [NLJ, June 11] points to an increasing fear that attorneys’ undue influence over jurors before, during and after trial may be facilitated by trial consultants through polling, investigations and post-trial interviews. It is wise to take a careful look at anything that could influence the effectiveness and autonomy of the American jury, but it is also critical to point out that, far from being stop-at-nothing jury-riggers, trial consultants who are members of the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC) follow professional standards designed to facilitate, and not undermine, the American legal process. The possible abuse of that process by unscrupulous parties through “push polling,” is not a reason to oppose or distrust surveys designed to measure public opinion that have been conducted and submitted to state and federal courts across the country for more than 30 years. ASTC, which currently has 535 members across the country, has clearly set out legitimate purposes in conducting surveys in a trial venue prior to trial. By assessing juror bias, a public opinion survey permits the parties and the judge to evaluate whether pretrial publicity or other unique factors create a reasonable likelihood that a fair and impartial jury cannot be selected, and such surveys are important in safeguarding the interests of justice. Attorneys who are able to document the problem of prejudgment through survey research are able to seek remedies such as a change of venue, sequestered voir dire or additional peremptory challenges. ASTC’s standards counsel against providing new “information” to respondents through the survey, which is a central feature of push polling. An ASTC member following those standards would not conduct a “push poll” under the guise of measuring pretrial bias. Our standards focus on ways to avoid influencing responses in order to enhance the validity of the research. As trial consultants, we take seriously our obligation to improve rather than impair the jury system by using social science tools to reduce, rather than create, bias in the courtroom. Ken Broda-Bahm, President of the American Society of Trial Consultants, Denver Susan Macpherson, Member of the American Society of Trial Consultants’ Professional Standards Committee, Minneapolis

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