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Our first visiting speaker!

Week two has started off with a bang. Today New Hampshire Chief Justice Mr. Broderick gave a speech to the few 1Ls who gathered. As we munched on some free pizza he walked us through his journey to the N.H. bench with some charming reminiscences of life as a trial lawyer. He appraised it as a wonderful experience that he only reluctantly gave up upon invitation to sit on the N.H. bench. Later in his talk he moved to the more serious matters of judicial independence. Not only did he lament attempts by legislatures to control judicial conduct, but he also clearly outlined the dangers of an elected judiciary. Coming from Minnesota I knew that we voted on many judge-ships every time a ballot came out, but I had never considered the implications. Justice Broderick made sure we all left a little aghast at the procedure by supplying some frightening stories about judicial election campaigns. His main point: hoe can we portend to an unbiased judiciary if they are reliant on a voting majority? Aren’t the courts a bastion of protection against the tyranny of majority so clearly articulated in Federalist #10? The judiciary also faces threats to its independence in financial form, as state spending tightens nation-wide the already short resources of state courts are being further restricted. Justice Broderick articulated these issues as the forthcoming trials of our generation – the next generation of legal minds in America. It was disheartening and compelling at the same time to have him deliver upon us such a charge.

His other lament was the faltering understanding of basic civics among the people of America, for which he had stunning statistics. Surely if we are to maintain the legitimacy of our government we must expect people to be able to name its three operational branches with as much ease as they can list the three judges on American Idol. Apparently we are failing in that regard. This truly brings to point the VLS commitment to community and the world. We cannot be the only ones who know what is happening legally, judicially, or even politically. It is part of our new charge to educate people and propagate, not only the developments, but also, the critical importance of our judicial system. His voice has not been the first that I have heard declaring our judicial process to be at the core of the American character. I look forward to defending the honor and legitimacy of our cherished judicial system in my future career in law.

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