US judges – money, special interests and conflicts of interest

Some interesting research out from the Brennan centre looking at how, ” State judicial elections [in the US] have been transformed during the past decade.”  As the executive summary puts it:

The story of America’s 2000–2009 high court contests—tens of millions of dollars raised by candidates from parties who may appear before them, millions more poured in by interest groups, nasty and misleading ads, and pressure on judges to signal courtroom rulings on the campaign trail—has become the new normal.

The report coverscampaign spending, the use of “nasty and costly TV ads”, “secretive state and national campaigns to tilt state Supreme Court elections”, “litigation about judicial campaigns” and “growing public concern about the threat to fair and impartial justice—and support for meaningful reforms.”  A strong theme is the role of special interst groups in the process.

Interestingly, the report suggests nonpartisan races have increasingly developed down this route.

The report and an exexutive summary can be downloaded here.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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