Monday, March 17, 2014

March Madness: The clock is now the enemy for judicial candidates

It's dangerous, I learned, to use sports analogies in legal arguments. Years ago I had occasion to be in the Appellate Court arguing a forum non conveniens case on the same day that the World Series began. I thought it might be clever to work a scoreboard analogy into my argument, because (in my opinion) all the previously recognized factors favoring transfer from Cook County were on my side. I was pitching a shutout, I suggested.

The late Justice Allen Hartman was on the panel that morning -- and he hated that argument. And he told me so. In no uncertain terms. You'll forgive me if I don't provide the citation to the eventual opinion, but you've already guessed the result.

But I know it's traditional to use sports analogies in political coverage. The tally of ballots after the polls have closed is often covered like it were a horse race -- even though that's the stupidest analogy ever: Unlike a horse race, the election is over when the polls close (or it had better be) and the changing 'leads' that are reported through the evening are merely a reflection of which votes are reported when.

So I think I can say it's permissible to use a sports analogy in discussing judicial elections. It occurred to me that, for judicial candidates, today is analogous to the closing seconds of the second half of a college basketball game. After all, yesterday was Selection Sunday; "March Madness" is officially underway.

For judicial candidates, almost everything that can be done, has been done. There's time for one more play, one more push, the ground game at the polling places tomorrow. Today, candidates and their campaign managers are drawing up their final plays, deciding who will cover which precinct, deciding how many must go uncovered.

Oh, yes, I was feeling pretty smug about my inventiveness, and imagining what a clever essay I could craft on the subject. Then an FWIW reader sent me this mailer (click to enlarge or clarify):

Obviously I'm not as clever as I'd to think.

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