Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fireworks in the halls of justice

Personal vendettas, a resignation, multiple ethical violations and now attempted comebacks.

Races for district court judge don't normally gin up too much excitement, but a soap opera is playing out today in Mecklenburg County.

First, department store heir Bill Belk, who had never practiced law as a career, knocked off Judge Ben Thalheimer in 2008 because he didn't like how Thalheimer ruled in Belk's divorce case. Soon Belk resigned just before the state Judicial Standards Commission found that Belk violated the Judicial Code of Ethics. The Supreme Court banned Belk from ever returning to the bench. Later, Judge John Totten admitted to violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and agreed to be censured.

And today, Thalheimer, a judge for five years before being bounced by Belk, announced his comeback effort, saying he'll run against Totten this year.

"It is time we brought integrity back to the Mecklenburg County District Court," Thalheimer said.

Belk and Totten have brought embarrassment to themselves and to the Mecklenburg bench. They are further examples of why elections are a flawed way of selecting district court judges. But we still hold them, and this year's between Thalheimer and Totten could be a doozy.

-- Taylor Batten


Garth Vader said...

Yes, judges will have much more integrity if they are selected by a Politburo of elites. I mean, let's look at the stellar track record of lawyers being appointed the Politburo: Eric Holder, Alberto Gonzales, Janet Reno, Harriet Myers...