Three political parties (Republican, Reform and Constitutional) recently decided to endorse (or not endorse) judges who are seeking to be re-elected to their position. That may not be a good idea, but it calls attention to a very serious problem with our courts - bad judges, including judges who abuse their almost unlimited power. Judges have enormous powers. They can deprive a citizen of property, liberty, and even limit the contact of a parent with his/her children. They can damage or even ruin a business or a citizen's means of livelihood. They can overturn acts of the legislature and orders of the governor. Our legal system will function properly only if our judges are intelligent, honest, unbiased, and totally dedicated to making the most just and fairest decisions they can. There are many good judges who always try to be fair and just, but many others who fall far short of that standard and who routinely mistreat citizens, especially those who are not represented by an expensive lawyer. This November, you will be given the chance to vote on judges who want to continue in office. It is extremely important to all of us that we keep the good judges and vote out those whose performance was unacceptable. But you probably will know nothing about the judges listed in the ballot you receive. Still worse, in almost all cases the judge will have no opponent. Such an election is a farce and a sham. Before you can cast an informed and meaningful vote, you need to know about the performance of the judges who want to be re-elected. Currently, such information is not available. The little information you are given, primarily in political advertisements financed largely by lawyers and law firms, or in articles by newspaper reporters and editors, is not really reliable or properly researched. For example, the information you are given is not based on interviews with a representative sample of people and lawyers who appeared before these judges, or an analysis of the decisions the judges made, or a study of how many decisions of each judge were reversed by an appeals court, or research into other information about the judge. In another article ("Performance Evaluation of Judges") we propose a process for evaluating judges each year and publishing a report about the judge when he/she runs for re-election. This evaluation process does not yet exist. But there is something each of us can do to vote out unworthy judges and open the door for carefully selected replacements until an evaluation process for judges is developed and implemented. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, write-in votes for a fictitious person (such as "New Judge") must be counted and, if the majority of votes are for a fictitious person, the incumbent judge is defeated, which results in a vacancy. (Office of the Secretary of State, Elections, 651 215-1440; Minn. Laws, ' 204C.19) Thus, if enough of us vote for "New Judge" in each judge election, the position will become vacant. The governor can evaluate the judge who held that office and, if his/her record and reputation are good, reappoint that judge to stay in office. If a judge's record is bad, the governor can and should appoint a replacement.