JP candidate challenges rules
Wolfson says he should be allowed to air his views on legal, political issues
KINGMAN - Randolph Wolfson, local attorney and a candidate for Kingman justice of the peace, filed a complaint earlier this month seeking to strike down state judicial ethics rules that, in his words, prohibit free speech.
Wolfson filed a complaint with the Federal District Court in Phoenix on Oct. 3, seeking an emergency temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction to prevent the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Arizona State Bar Attorney Disciplinary Commission from filing or considering complaints based on certain state rules of conduct.
The rules Wolfson wishes to strike down, he said, prohibit judicial candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues, from personally soliciting funds, from making contributions to political organizations, from making endorsements and from supporting state ballot measures. The rules can also punish candidates, he said, if they don't discourage their family members from engaging in certain political activities.
"I am determined that if Arizona chooses to elect her judges, then she cannot gag candidates so that the voters never have a clue about the character, values, reputation and viewpoint of the candidates," Wolfson said.
"Since I am a practicing Arizona attorney who is also an ordained minister, I hold strong opinions and viewpoints on many disputed issues of the day, which, in my belief, sets me apart from my political opponent," he said.
Wolfson asked how people can expect judges to "think with clarity, act with the wisdom of their education and knowledge and judge with the wisdom that only a lifetime of experience can bring," and yet remain afraid of letting them speak their minds.
A trial attorney for 24 years and an ordained minister with the Calvary Chapel of Phoenix since 1987, Wolfson has been making presentations to churches countywide regarding homosexuals, methamphetamines and the First Amendment while working as an ally with the Phoenix-based Alliance Defense Fund.
Since becoming a candidate for the Kingman justice of the peace position, Wolfson said he has had to considerably scale back the scope and topics of his presentations. Under the restrictions in the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct, Wolfson said he is under penalty of losing his license to practice law and could face sanctions if elected.
Wolfson said similar laws have been struck down in Minnesota, Florida, Kansas and Kentucky.
"In this era where there is a great public outcry over judicial activism and frustration over judges making the law instead of our elected legislators, it runs against common logic that the public somehow needs to be protected by its government from hearing the thoughts and beliefs of candidates for judge," Wolfson said.