In the most recent episode of This American Life, the show includes a discussion of the amendment on the ballot to reconstitute the JQC as a creature of the legislature and with the State Bar of Georgia taken out of the appointment process altogether. If you are undecided on this amendment, the segment is worth your time.

  • The episode begins with some background on how the JQC did its business with Richard Hyde as its chief investigator. He investigated complaints thoroughly. And when he was finished, he approached the subject of his investigation with his findings. As a case in point, the show details how he confronted Judge (and now co-sponsor of the JQC bill) Johnnie Caldwell with an incriminating tape to secure his swift resignation.
  • Then the show discusses the timeline for the bill (HR1113). The resolution seemed destined to fail at first. But late in the session, the speaker made it clear that either it would pass or no other legislation would.
  • Finally, a deal was cut for a democratic representative to cross party lines and vote for it. In exchange, the house voted to create a city (!) as a favor to the representative.
  • Part of the background was a long-standing grudge held by the speaker toward the State Bar of Georgia.

The story does give the other side. In particular, it discusses how the JQC treated two judges under investigation perhaps unfairly. But finally the story poses the question of whether such a radical overhaul was necessary to fix some of the procedural problems with the JQC.

The show ends with the reporter noting that this bill and the way it came about is not democracy at its finest but is likely how democracy works. Therein lies the problem. Voters are not likely to have a clue what the JQC is or what this amendment provides. So, passage is likely. I’ve told everybody I know. And when I tell the background, I see the lightbulb turn on.

But my microphone is only so loud. And the State Bar of Georgia is to this bill as Paul Ryan is to Donald Trump. The State Bar has compromised its integrity on this one, opting not to take stand on a bill that is clearly bad for judicial ethics and which removes its say on who the commissioners are.

If there is any hope in defeating this amendment, it will come with just telling the story to as many people as possible before they vote. I suppose that the people get the government we deserve.