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Clerk of Courts Candidates

Two candidates for Clerk of Courts are quite distinct

Electoral politics can be a very frustrating thing. The race for Hampden County Clerk of Courts exemplifies this notion. The job is an important but obscure one. Very few voters could adequately describe the job of the Clerk of Courts. The two candidates for the job are quite distinct. Jim Goodhines is a smart young assistant district attorney whose qualifications for the job are clear. His opponent is a career politician who has amassed a veritable fortune in political capital and name recognition during an 18 year stint in the state legislature.

Were the job an appointed position, Brian Lees' appointment would be very similar to the appointment of Michael Brown to head F.E.M.A. Were the clerk's job an appointed position, no rational appointing authority would hire Lees over Goodhines. However, the job is an elective one and the appointing authority is the voters. Affection for Senator Lees is understandable and fair. He is a very nice man and has been very attentive to his constituency while in the senate, but he has absolutely no experience or training relevant to the job of Clerk of Courts. He is not a lawyer, nor has he ever managed anything remotely as large and complex as the courts. While it is technically true that neither clerks of courts nor Supreme Court Justices of the United States must actually be lawyers, it is irrational for voters or presidents to appoint non-lawyers to either post.

Mr. Lees could have stayed in the senate, or he could run for another political post. The job of a court clerk, however, is one that requires administrative and legal competencies that Jim Goodhines has and Senator Lees does not have. The management of our courts is too important to be a political reward.

Jerold J. Duquette