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1. The two major ways that judges are selected are popular elections and appointment. The electorate chooses the judge in a popular election while the executive or legislative branch decides the matter in appointment. Popular elections allow for accountability to the people but also require the judge to be a political candidate which can erode trust in the judiciary due to campaign financing. Appointment can produce distrust in the judicial system due to the potential for loyalty to a particular party or person who is instrumental in the appointment.
The state of Georgia elects judges based on a nonpartisan election and does not utilize retention elections. Judges of the State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals serve a six year term while judges of the Superior Court, Probate Court, and State Court serve four year terms. It has been my experience that the local judiciary elections are most contentious and partisan with large fundraising efforts that easily show the electorate the party the candidate is affiliated with. I am ashamed to admit that I couldn’t name a single member of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals for the state of Georgia and I have lived here my entire life. I do believe this system works with the opportunity to elect judges and hold them accountable to the job.
(Please respond with 200 words or more)
2. Having lived in the south for most of my life, but having worked for an electric company based out of New England for the past three years, and having in Iowa for two years a decade ago, I feel that I have gathered a feel for the catch 22 in the major variables in local government structures.In South Carolina, there are many large areas with no city or township incorporation, thus, even in high population density areas, much of South Carolina leans on the County governments as the primary local government agency. While the cities have a fair amount of automy, they often border on redundancy. For instance, in Aiken County, where I live, there are ten municipal governments within it. However, only North Augusta’s Public Saftey takes responsibility for police patrol. All other city police departments only suppliment the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department’s patrol division.My biggest grievance with this structure is that the uniformity often comes at the price of property taxes that do not render their worth to the tax payer.In New England, the exact opposite happens. Their elimination or minimization of county goverments is modeled after the townships in the United Kingdom. In both cases, the benefit of minimizing the local tax burden subsequently adds the burden to the state. This is not entirely negative; every one of these states have a more developed state police force, as well as other state level services that many southern states are prone to delegating to the counties. Midwestern state seem to strike a balance with these two polar opposites. The municipal goverments are developed comprehensively to meet the needs of the community, while county governments never fully abandon the responsibilities of supporting the larger geographic area. The further west you move, the more intensive both get, and once you get to the west coast, you have the outlandishly high cost of living because of egregiously redundant government facilities on the state, county, and city levels. (Please respond with 200 words or more)