Most political posts test the endurance of candidates and the patience of voters. With terms of two or four or six years, those seeking office never really quit running. Elected positions become perpetual-motion machines, requiring office-holders to campaign unceasingly to keep their jobs.
The lone exception to this phenomena is judicial races, particularly local superior court posts. Our community's history is such that once elected, judges are almost never challenged for re-election, and even more rarely are unseated. Winning a judgeship, by appointment or election, provides virtual lifetime job security.
That is one of many reasons such a stunning amount of money has gone into the campaigns for Augusta's rare open judgeship. The candidates and their supporters are keenly aware that the winner ascends to near-untouchable status on the bench, and the chastened losers settle back to the mortal ranks of their fellow attorneys.
Contrary to what the supporters and detractors of all four candidates would have the public believe, the choice for a judge to replace William Fleming is not an easy one. Every one of the candidates in the race is worthy of the post, each of them bringing to the bench a variety of talents and experience.
And it is that variety which directs our call for the election of David Roper as superior court judge.
In terms of pure legal experience, Roper does not have the strong legal pedigree of fellow candidate Bill Williams, or the similarly focused Les Wilkinson. And all of them lack the prosecutorial background of the youngest contender, Willie Saunders.
In addition to being students - and, often, teachers - of the law, judges also are human beings. If emotion and judgement weren't part of being a judge, the laws could be sparsely written as a series of rules and consequences with no gray areas. Clerks could handle the paperwork, dispassionately dispensing one-size-fits-none justice.
But because the laws are written by human beings, and human beings are subject to those laws, the judges who daily measure and evaluate the application of those laws must not only have the appropriate education and experience in applying the law, but must be capable of weighing the human effects of those laws.
David Roper is a student of the law; he also is a remarkable human being. He has devoted much of his adult life not just to legal practice, but to service to his fellow man through Rotary International and other charitable and civic pursuits.
Understandably, some of the candidates and their supporters downplay such experience. But that mix of experience has given Roper a background and demeanor to prepare him not only for the entry level position in domestic relations court - where human judgement is paramount - but to enable him to handle the variety of legal cases over which all superior court judges eventually preside.
Citizens who are confused, or dismayed, by the deafening volume of hyperbole in this race should rest easy. There is no bad candidate in Tuesday's election for superior court judge, and our court system will benefit from the election of any of the men seeking the post.
We believe, however, that our community would benefit most with the election of David Roper.
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