If you thought the Rhode Island judicial selection process was perhaps too politically motivated, consider this story about the federal judicial nomination process in Arkansas:
After reviewing a long list of applicants, Arkansas’s two senators, ostensible Democrats, have sent President Obama a list of nine candidates for three open federal judgeships in Arkansas. One of these nominees was vetted especially closely; politics makes for strange vet fellows. Amy Russell of Little Rock, a federal court law clerk, is the wife of Bob Russell, who is chief of staff for Sen. Mark Pryor and who had a major role in selecting the nine nominees. Evidently, he liked the cut of his spouse’s jib.
Others find Mrs. Russell’s jib less attractive. She gave $1,000 to the Republican presidential candidate, one George W. Bush, in 2000, and while that’s not quite a felony, it’s surely a disqualification for a federal judgeship. Far too many Bush enablers are presiding over federal courts already. Mrs. Russell votes in Republican primaries, too. Did Americans elect Barack Obama because they wanted more of George Bush’s justice?
Rhode Island has their own chief of staff judicial news. The Ethics Commission has just cleared the way for Governor Don Carcieri to appoint his chief of staff, Brian Stern, to the Superior Court or the District Court. Prior to becoming chief of staff in 2007, Stern served as deputy chief of legal services for the Department of Business Regulation as well as executive counsel and executive director for the Department of Administration. He previously worked at the New York firm Kanterman, Taub and Breitner. He is a 1991 graduate of Brooklyn Law School.