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Judges: Yes on 94

Law students spend years, some of which seem like centuries, puzzling out the legal underpinnings of judicial opinions. So, as one law-school administrator put it, nothing helps in a classroom like a live judge describing how rulings are crafted.

That is the theory behind state Proposition 94, which would amend the Constitution to allow judges of any trial court of record to teach in any law school in their spare time. Under existing law, California judges can teach at private law schools but not at University of California law schools. It is sound theory, and we urge a Yes vote on Proposition 94 on Nov. 8.

The proposal is not unanimous theory. One argument against it calls attention to the “staggering” backlog of cases in California courts. It suggests that because there is no way to enforce a clause saying that teaching must not interfere with the work of the courtroom, judges should be stopped from teaching anywhere rather than being allowed to teach everywhere.

The logical conclusion of that approach would ration all of a judge’s spare time--12 rounds of golf a year, one dinner party a month, gardening to be contracted out to avoid wasting time that could be spent studying cases.

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The fact is that law schools would not be likely to invite judges whose competence barely sees them through an average day in court. There are safeguards against double-dipping on retirement pay that could be a problem with state judges teaching on state campuses. Proposition 94 can help students without hurting the judicial system, and we urge a Yes vote.


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