New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 4, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
4A New Braunfels Herald Ze/funsr Friday, January 4,1985
James Kilpatrick listens to the woes of justice
Dave Kraatr, General Manager Eckert Jokstoa, Editor
Burger wants relief for judges
In the year-end report he delivered Monday, Chief Justice Warren Burger renewed appeals he has made before: Federal judges are overburdened and underpaid, and he wants Congress to give them relief. He makes a
In 1969, when Burger became chief justice, a federal district judge had a salary of $40,000. Today that salary is $76,000, but the increase is an illusion. Inflation has reduced the value of the 1969 salary to only $26,800. Over the 15-year period, 43 judges have resigned, “most of them because of inadequate compensation.” Burger urges Congress to approve a substantial raise when all executive, legislative and judicial salaries come up for adjustment next year.
In Burger's view, the judicial corps is demonstrably earning its pay. Fifteen years ago a district judge, on the average, disposed of 311 cases. The average per judge in 1984 was 517 cases. Circuit courts have become even more productive. In 1969 appellate panels terminated 279 cases; last year these panels averaged 709 cases.
The problem is the problem that vexed old King Canute: Tile waves kept rolling in. In 1969 the district
courts received 112,600 filings; last year they received nearly 300,000 filings. The number of appeals taken to the circuit courts has tripled in this same period. At the level of the Supreme Court, cases roll in at the rate of IOO a week. The nine justices “must now work beyond any sound maximum limits.”
“Absolutely no room remains for additional cases. More important, the precious time for reflection so necessary to a court that decides cases with far-reaching consequences has been reduced to, and possibly below, an absolute minimum.”
Burger renews two recommendations he has made before. Under existing law, the Supreme Court must review certain cases brought on appeal. In the 1983-84 term, the court had to accept 26 such cases, and many of them clearly did not justify the court’s consideration. Burger would abolish this mandatory appellate jurisdiction and give the high court complete discretion over its docket. Last year the House approved a bill for this purpose, but the Senate never acted. To provide this relief is the least that Congress could do.
Congress could do something more. It could take a flier
on Burger’s second recommendation. Once again he urges creation of a temporary panel of circuit judges who would sit in Washington for perhaps four weeks a year. Their function would be to settle conflicts among the 13 circuit courts of appeal. The panel’s decisions, unless modified by the high court itself, would be binding on all federal judges.
The proposition makes sense. It would cost the taxpayers virtually nothing, for the curcuit judges who would compose the court already are on the federal payroll. The administrative expenses would amount to no more than nickels and dimes, but the investment would enable the Supreme Court to turn its attention to larger matters.
In the present term of court, three of the five cases thus far decided have involved intercircuit conflicts. One case dealt with a Tennessee drug dealer who had been convicted of a narcotics offense in 1974; the question was whether, if the defendant testified, evidence of the prior conviction could be used to impeach his credibility. A second case involved a San Diego woman indicted for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell it; a jury
aquitted her on that count, but found her guilty of using a telephone as part of the drug conspiracy. The question was whether these inconsistent verdicts could stand. The third conflict stemmed from the conviction of an alleged counterfeiter for attempting to rob a Secret Service agent. The statute punishes the robber of any custodian of “mail matter, or of any money or other property” of the United States. The question was whether the law was intended to apply only to thefts of mail, or whether it could be applied generally.
None of the three cases amount to a row of beans. The high court disposed of two of them without a dissenting opinion. In the robbery case, Justices Stevens, Marshall and Brennan took the view that the old postal statute was so clearly intended to apply only to mail carriers that it could not be interpreted broadly. The six other justices concluded that the disjunctive phrases, “or of any money or other property,” was clear on its face. Burger’s point is that the high court has better things to do with its limited time, and Burger is right. The intercircuit panel deserves a try.
Gov. Mark White Governor's Office Room 200 State Capitol Ausitn, Texas 78701
Sen. John Traeger Texas Senate Capitol Station Austin, Texas, 78711
Rep. Tom Loeffler U.S. House of Representatives 1212 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, D.C. 20515
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Russell Bldg Washington, D.C. 20510
Rep. Edmund Kuempel Texas House of Representatives P.O. Box 2910 Austin, Texas 78769
PACmen make a difference in campaigns
votes over Republican Randy Pat-chett, with the help of $34,275 in last-rninute donations from labor PACS. Though Patchett had $40,000 cash on hand compared to Gray’s $2,125, he could raise only $16,500 in late PAC donations.
— In North Carolina, where Republican challenger Bill Cobey beat incumbent Ike Andrews by 2,606 votes, the winner collected $26,500 in last-minute PAC money, including $5,000 “out of the blue” from the fundamentalist Christian Voters’ Victory Fund. Andrews riased only $9,000 from the PACS in the waning days of the campaign.
mediately ; the impossible may take a little time.” But the engineers may have met their match in the military eggheads at the National Defense University. The brass-bound academicians decided they needed a new war-games center on the Fort McNair campus in southwest Washington, D.C. And they wanted iThe only trouble was the engineers couldn’t find out how big the center should be. The only clue they got was that the war-games center across the river at the Pentagon was too small. And while the Defense Intelligence Agency insisted that the new center be super-secure, no details were given • on grounds of national security.
There is an untold story buried in the records of the 1984 election campaign. These records show what happened in the final week of the most close congressional campaigns.
‘it s not the amount of money you get." a veteran senator explained, “ifs when you get it.” Polls are taken to identify why and where a candidate is weak or strong. Then he must have enough money to focus the final advertising blitz where it will do the most good.
I ^st-minute donations, therefore, can make tile difference between winning and losing a close race. The unsentimental professionals, who run most political-action committees know they can gain a candidate's gratitude and increase their leverage with him by slipping him a bundle of cash during the crucial last days before the vote The PACmen’s strategy is clearly illustrated by the eight closest House
campaigns last fall. In all but one race (where a final determination awaits a recount), the candidate who got the most last-minute, special-interest money won the election.
Here’s the rundown on the eight campaigns:
— In southern Indiana, Republican challenger Richard D. McIntyre defeated the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Frank McCloskey, by 34 votes -pending a recount. McIntyre had $28,776 cash on hand as he moved into the final two weeks of the campaign. This was boosted the last minute by $40,750 in PAC money, $4,000 of it from milk producers. McCloskey had only $1,965 cash on hand but got a last-minute shot-in-the-arm of $23,500 from PACS, including $7,000 from the campaign chest of Shoo-In Democrats.
— In Idaho, history professor Richard Stallings unseated the Republican incumbent, Rep. George
Hansen, by 133 votes. Hansen’s main problem was his conviction for financial-disclosure violations. But the flow of late cash to Stallings clearly helped. With only $360 on hand shortly before the election, Stallings got $27,000 from PACmen who smelled the scent of victory. Hansen had $3,151 in cash but could raise only $7,500 more from the PACS.
— In North Carolina, Republican J. Alex McMillan owed his 321-vote squeaker over challenger David Martin largely to Ronald Reagan’s coattails. But could he have pulled it off without the last-minute infusion of $*£>,750 in PAC money? Ifs a question that Martin - who could scrape up only $2,000 in late PAC funds - must still be asking himself.
— In Utah, a strategist for Republican winner David Monson told my reporters Tony Capaccio and Scott Barrett candidly that the
$46,800 in last-minute special-interest money his candidate got “was the margin, no two ways about it.” Monson edged Democrat Frances Farley by 472 votes; her last-minutes PAC money, mostly from unions, came to $35,930 - not bad, but not good enough.
— In Pennsylvania, incumbent Rep. Bob Edgar barely fended off the challenge of Republican Curt Weldon. Edgar’s 481-vote margin might be traced to the $15,000 in last-minute PAC money he raised, which was $3,000 more than Weldon got.
— In Michigan, Rep. Donald Albosta lost to Republican Bill Schuette by 1,314 votes. Albosta raised only $14,000 in last-minute PAC money, which was significantly less than the $20,300 Schuette got from the PACS.
— In Illinois, former Rep. Ken Gray regained his old seat by 1,377
The Army Corps of Engineers is one of those can-do outfits that often boasts, “the difficult we do im-
So the engineers went ahead by guess and by golly. One result is that the center will probably cwt at least twice the Pentagon's original $500,000 estimate.
YOUK A UXJ?/LAW, MKS SCMMTDm IF YOUR
POULL MX KW IOU
nm HW tm?
i tm rn lorn veer
SOK HST IF IOU NHP ANYTHING FROM H NURSB, JUST PfZ&lht BUTTON&-
THG AFTERNOON ,
SChUmi- HI. PO MAN? YOU HAUB ,^y ANY SMRZ
The HeraldZejtung welcomes the opinions of its readers, and we’re happy to publish letters to the editor, letters are published on the Opinions page as soon as they are received, unless delayed by space limitations.
While readers’ opinions on local issues generally are of more interest to other readers, we welcome letters on any topic — local, state, national or international — that the writer chooses to address. Content will
not prevent publication unless the letter is judged to be potentially libelous.
All letters to the editor should be signed and authorship must be verifiable by telephone. Anonymous letters will not be published.
Send your letter to: Mailbag, New
Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, P.O. Drawer 361, New Braunfels Texas, 71131. Letters may also be hand delivered to the newspaper
at IM S Pant*!!