One of the most important good government battles in modern Rhode Island history was waged successfully in the 1990s, when the Rhode Island Senate was stripped of its unilateral power to appoint life-tenured judges. The resulting “merit based system” retains a significant political component though, as the “Judicial Nominating Commission” screens and recommends, but the Governor nominates and the Senate retains the ultimate confirmation power. One of the important voices in this struggle for judicial independence is our own Professor (and Dean Designate) Michael Yelnosky, who played a key role in the reform movement, and continues to be an important commentator on the judicial appointment process. Here is a link to a program he put together on this topic in 2009 http://law.rwu.edu/story/professor-yelnosky-leads-judicial-selection-forum.
The most recent example is an article in the current issue of Rhode Island Monthly. http://www.rimonthly.com/Rhode-Island-Monthly/February-2014/Reporter-Rev...
Michael has also tackled judicial appointments at the national level, with a provocative op-ed in the Washington Post. http://law.rwu.edu/story/washington-post-oped-judicial-selection
These contributions show once again that the faculty at Roger Williams School of Law have an impact not just on their students but on public debate on key issues.
Professor Michael Yelnosky