TruthToTell, Monday, July 9−9AM: ALL ABOUT THE COURTS AND JUDGES: Dispensing Justice? Or Bias? - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/

Monday, July 9, 2012

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Back in February of this year and a couple of years backTruthToTell aired a couple of editions exploring the possibility of instituting an entirely new way of selecting our judges in Minnesota. Wisconsin’s circus of judicial elections, especially for the state Supreme Court over there (think shoving the face of a colleague there last year), is a very bad one in the minds of many court-watchers. That electoral system only mimics those envisioned in the outgrowth of the US Supreme Court ruling negating one of Minnesota’s cherished Judicial Canons that had, till then, prohibited as a possible conflict any overt campaign discussion of issues that could one day come before the court for which a given candidate was running. The 5-4 SCOTUS ruling opened wide the political campaigns of judges and justices, and this politicization of judicial races portended for the legal community nothing but trouble.

Legislation promoting a state constitutional amendment ordering new system of appointing judges and justices, then putting their performance before public scrutiny later – when their terms came up for renewal – has fared poorly over several sessions, despite it promotion by some of Minnesota’s most prestigious political and legal celebrities.

I erred in last Winter’s announcement and script when I stated that this new system of appointing judges called “retention elections” – was supported by Hennepin County District Judge Kevin Burke, whose credentials as a Chief Judge and an Assistant Chief Judge among the 62 judges of the Hennepin Court are significant, to say the least. Judge Burke wrote and simply stated he has never supported the proposed system.

So I wrote and called to discover that Judge Burke favors the election of judges in Minnesota. I then suggested that he come on, not just to defend the judicial electoral status quo, or some variation of it, but to discuss the plethora of reforms needed in the courts and criminal justice system.

So. From the horse’s mouth, as it were, we can delve into court reforms and criminal justice disparities along with the ways judicial campaigns should be conducted if straight elections are to remain our primary selection method.

Of course, governors will continue to appoint when judges step down or retire before their terms are completed, and the field of candidates will be, as currently done, whittled to three by a nonpartisan merit selection commission, and from those top three contenders, the governor will usually – but not always – make his (or her) appointment. He or she may appoint whomever they wish as Gov. Pawlenty and others have done.

We – TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI will spend the hour with:








It’s 2012. Four years since the “crash” of 2008, when the real bailout could have been to the bank, but through the device of saving homeowners from the conflagration of foreclosures from the crooked system of subprime loads to people who might not have been able to afford a mortgage of any size, but at usurious interest rates – both conventional andARMs (adjustable rate mortgages).

Millions who worked hard to keep up their payments to no avail in this economic bust of an economy have been turned out of their homes, some of them from homes they owned for 15 years or more.

Recently, in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street and its local incarnations, Occupy Homes Minnesota has begun stonewalling such foreclosures on behalf of Twin Cities homeowners, many of them in communities of color, where the subprime market ran rampant or interest rates drove payments well beyond the mortgagers ability to keep up.

The foreclosures have thrown thousands into the streets and homeless shelters and left neighborhoods decimated of their housing stock while rising vacancy rates turn communities into war zones.

One of the families resisting with the help of Occupy Homes MN is the Cruz family of South Minneapolis. Despite promises to fix what was an unjust demand for accelerated payments from the beginning – admitted by both PNC Bank Mortgage Company and indicted, but bailed-out mortgage packaging giant, Freddie Mac – several police raids and clashes with protesters has led to well over a dozen arrests – including that of internationally respected Minnesota-based hip hop artist, Brother Ali.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with members of the Cruz family and their advocates as well as Brother Ali himself.


•BROTHER ALI – International Rap Artist and member of the Occupy Homes movement





•DAVID CRUZ – Son of the first-generation Latino family homeowners losing their home (shown with sister, ALEJANDRA)

•NICK ESPINOSA – An Organizer with Occupy Homes Minnesota