LETTER: Stone should consider effects of proposed laws

Apr. 13, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

To the Editor:

Did you hear about the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Stone seeking to reverse the constitutional requirement that district court judges be lawyers?

If you want to be a judge, shouldn't you have to graduate from an accredited college, then an accredited law school, and then know enough about the law to pass that little thing called the bar exam like the Constitution currently requires? District court judges preside over hearings and trials in misdemeanor criminal, civil and juvenile cases. They preside over jury trials; they hear divorce, custody, child support and equitable distribution cases involving million-dollar estates. They also preside over hearings in felony cases.

Mr. Stone’s bill, House Bill 397, would allow non-lawyers to serve as judges. It would allow an individual to seek a district court judge seat without even having a high school education.

I would like to try my hand at brain surgery or a root canal. I wouldn't mind wiring somebody's house, or even filling a prescription to make a little extra money. However, just like medical school, dental school, an electrical license and pharmacy school are necessary for a reason. Law school takes three years for a reason.

Mr. Stone is in his second term as one of our state representatives. Each time he ran for office, he claimed he would work hard to create jobs and reduce the unemployment numbers in Lee County. So far, Mr. Stone has failed miserably, in that the Lee County unemployment numbers remain obscenely high.

The Internet gambling parlors that Mr. Stone promoted so strongly early in his tenure as our state representative have been declared illegal again. Lee County has lost these wonderful jobs. The new parking lot behind Mr. Stone’s grocery store in Jonesboro paid for with taxpayer dollars only provided a few temporary jobs. Perhaps House Bill 397, seeking to allow individuals with no education or no experience in trying cases to preside over our criminal and civil disputes as a district court judge, is his best effort to create jobs.

Mr. Stone’s House Bill 397 is a classic example of someone making laws who does not understand the implications or effects of the laws they are seeking to pass.

Chip Post

Sanford