Lawmaker Admits: Most Georgians Don't Know About Amendment 3 | WABE 90.1 FM

Lawmaker Admits: Most Georgians Don't Know About Amendment 3

Oct 27, 2016

The key lawmaker behind a plan on November's ballot to overhaul the state's judicial watchdog agency says he hopes people will approve it even if they don't know much about it.

Amendment 3 on November’s ballot would allow the state Legislature to recreate the Judicial Qualifications Commission – the agency that investigates ethics and misconduct complaints against state judges.

“My expectation is probably two-thirds of people going in to cast their ballot will not even know that it’s on the ballot, and they'll read down and look at it and say ‘well that sounds logical, a good thing to do,’ and hopefully approve it,”said State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, on "Closer Look" Wednesday.

“I think it’s true in the past that most things on there as a constitutional amendment – unless it calls for some type of tax increase – people support it,” Willard said.

Willard was responding to a question about whether most Georgian's lack of knowledge about the Judicial Qualifications Commission was a concern since they would vote on the future of the commission.

“It’s like inside baseball – you’ve got an agency here that is really of not much interest or knowledge about it except within the legal profession. Lawyers and judges know about it, but it serves a very important role in our community,” Willard said.

Willard and other supporters of the amendment say the agency has lacked oversight and, in the past, abused its power over judges.

“There is no oversight. There is no way of a check and balance regarding what they do work-wise,” Willard said. He has said judges deserve due process with the commission. 

Critics say they want more time to address the issues raised about the judicial watchdog agency, and say the proposed changes would politicize the commission and make it less independent.

The current changes would allow leaders of the state Legislature appoint the majority of the commission’s seven members and take away appointments from the State Bar of Georgia.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who opposes the amendment, said the changes could favor judges who have friends in the state Legislature.

“I'm very concerned about the potential for abuse if we move to that model,” McKoon said, also on "Closer Look."

He said he agrees there are issues about the commission that need to be looked at, but said he wants more robust dialogue instead.

You can hear the entire segment "Closer Look" segment here.

Like us on Facebook