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Voters approve reconfiguring judicial watchdog agency
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Voters approved an amendment to dismantle the state’s independent judicial watchdog agency, letting state lawmakers recreate the agency and exert control over it.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created in 1972 to investigate and resolve complaints of ethical misconduct by judges. In the past decade, the commission’s actions have resulted in more than 60 judges leaving the bench. They include judges accused of sexual harassment and one who pointed a gun at people in court.

Amendment supporters said the commission’s independence enabled it to force out judges without due process. Lester Tate, a former commission chairman, argued the proposal was politically motivated and would let judges facing complaints seek favors from their legislators.

Hall voters mirrored the state, with 63 percent approving the amendment with 149 of 159 counties reporting.