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The
Independent Judiciary

A TREATISE ON THE

REFORM OF

THE JUDICIARY

By the Nonpartisan Selection

of Judges

By
JAMES A. BENT

OF
The West Virginia Bar

Copyrighted 1925

By
JAMES A. BENT

340554

SECOND EDITION

Printed by
Morgantown Printing & Binding Co.

Morgantown, W. Va.

INTRODUCTORY

Of the three departments of government in our system the judicial above all others is the most direct in its functions, effects and influence.

It is but one step removed from the hang-man, or other executioner. It is because of that feature, doubtless, that our judicial system provides for both primary and appellate procedure, for inferior, superior and appellate courts of last resort, and ultimately in certain cases for executive clemency.

It is an admirable arrangement and calculated to conserve and protect, to the limit, the rights of the citizen as well as the public interest. As a general proposition, it has but one serious defect, and that is that it is political and partisan in all its departments regardless of whether the judicial office be elective or appointive. If one will but thread his way through the history of this government he will discern, to his satisfaction, and nonetheless to his disgust, that politics has always been a despicable trade; bad enough, when quite indispensible, and most regretable when it enmeshes the judiciary. It lies within the power of the legal profession, if it will, to take the judicial office out of politics, and give it a new and lustrous prestige, and in doing that it would reform, at least, some politicians. Even now, local and state Bar Associations in several states, make the subject a part of their programmes. It is due to a perfectly natural aspiration of a lawyer, not only for better ideals within the ranks of the profession; it is altruistic. It would if it could, by means of a nonpartisan judiciary rescue the judiciary of the land from the despicable entanglements to which the high office of judge is exposed by a time-worn partisan judiciary.

West Virginia is not behind any other State in efforts that would seek to elevate the judicial office by taking it out of politics. At least two circuits in this state the judgeship is practically out of politics; these are the first and seventeenth cir

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