Gavel Grab

Archive for December, 2007

Shameless Plug for JAS Podcast Series

In addition to this shiny new blog and our twice-monthly electronic newsletter Eyes on Justice (sign up here), JAS also produces monthly podcasts (Ears on Justice, naturally) on topics pertaining to the impartiality and accountability of the courts. Our latest podcast contains audio excerpts from a December 11, 2007 panel discussion we co-hosted in St. Louis, Missouri.  Click on this page to get an index of our most recent podcasts, including the St. Louis discussion.  If you’d like to subscribe to the series, click the “subscribe” icon on the left side of that page.  We also have a separate archives page, in case you’d like to listen to any past editions.

No comments

New Scholarship on Judicial Elections

This is the first in what will become a regular Gavel Grab feature–highlighting emerging scholarship on topics involving fair and impartial courts. In the Columbia Law Review, Yale’s David Pozen has written “The Irony of Judicial Elections.” The abstract, which can be found here, says in part:

“This Article takes the new era as an opportunity to advance our understanding of elective versus nonelective judiciaries. In revisiting this classic debate, the Article aims to make three main contributions. First, it offers an analytic taxonomy of the arguments for and against electing judges that seeks to distinguish the central normative concerns from the more contingent, empirical ones. Second, applying this taxonomy, the Article shows how both the costs and the benefits of elective judiciaries have been enhanced by recent developments, leaving the two sides of the debate further apart than ever.

Third, the Article explores several deep ironies that emerge from this cleavage. Underlying these ironies is a common insight: As judicial elections achieve greater legitimacy as elections, it will tend to undermine the judiciary’s distinctive role and our broader democratic processes. There is an underappreciated tradeoff between the health of judicial elections and the health of the judiciary, the Article posits, that can help recast the controversy over the new era.”

Please let us know of other new scholarship worth highlighting.

No comments

12/21/07 – What The Blogs Say – Complaint Filed Over SC Nominee in Wisconsin; Campaign Reform in Montana?; More on the End of Judicial Education

Campaign watchdog fires back at Gableman – All Politics Watch

Supreme Court Judicial candidate in Wisconsin under fire over comments.

Campaign Finance Reform for the Judiciary – Montana Main Street

Majority of Montanans would like to see Judges recuse themselves from cases in which the presiding attorney donated money towards their election.

More on the Judicial Education Bill – The Volokh Conspiracy

More commentary from Prof. Volokh discussing Congresses decision to cut back Judicial Education programs for federal judges.

Happy Holidays from Justice at Stake.

No comments

Two Key '08 Court Races Are Wide Open

As noted in today’s West Virginia papers (and as highlighted earlier today by our eagle eyed researcher Molly McNab), West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher yesterday confirmed widespread speculation that we will not seek re-election to that state’s highest court in 2008.  Coupled with a similar “I’m not running” announcement earlier this year from Alabama Justice Harold See, two states with histories of bloody Supreme Court races move into 2008 each with a vacancy to be filled.  Justices Starcher and See were each regarded as “targets” for removal from the bench (Starcher by the same business interests that ousted Warren McGraw in 2004, and See by Alabama trial attorneys and other Democratic party allies).  The fact that each has stepped aside may (or may not) somewhat tone down the negativity of those open seat races, but is also likely to drive the fundraising through the roof.  Watch for the national fundraising record in a court race — currently the $9.3 million raised in the 2004 Illinois Supreme Court campaign – to fall in 2008.  Maybe in West Virginia.  Maybe in Alabama.  Maybe in both.

No comments

12/21/07 – Two Federal Judges May Face Impeachment; More Women on State High Courts; WV SC Seat Opens Up

Panel: Judge’s Acts May Be Impeachable – The Associated Press
According to the Judicial Council of the 5th Circuit, District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr.’s actions while filing for bankruptcy may warrant impeachment.

Women Setting New Records as State Supreme Court Judges – USINFO
More women than ever are serving on state supreme courts. This article looks at the careers of three women justices.

Kent probe might take a long time – The Houston Chronicle
Judge Sam Kent possibly faces impeachment for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee.

Starcher says he won’t run again for Supreme Court – The Times West Virginia
After months of speculation, Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher announces he will be retiring. His seat will be up for reelection next year in a race that is already being closely watched.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

No comments

12/20/07 – What The Blogs Say – Jamie Leigh Jones' Case; Judge Rating is "Ludicrous" But Legal; Reviewing the Wisconsin Judicial Integrity Committee

Military judge: Hamdan may be tried – Sentencing Law and Policy

New development in the Hamden case.

What the Jamie Leigh Jones Case Tells Us – Harper’s Magazine

Scott Horton’s piece on the KBR/Halliburton being above America’s courts.

Reviewing the Wisconsin Judicial Integrity Committee – Shark and Shepard

This entry takes a closer look at the issue of Judicial Integrity commission in Wisconsin.

Misjudging Judicial Education – Bench Memos

The ending of Judicial Education programs? This post takes a look at a new bill in the senate that may make this possible.

Judge: Lawyer Rating ‘Ludicrous’ But Legal – Legal Blog Watch

A Federal Judge rules that it is legal to rate judges, no matter how absurd the comments.

No comments

The Second Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the saying goes, but over-the-top criticism must be a close second. At least that’s what I conclude from reading a new “interested parties” memo written up by the polling company TM (italics and TM theirs) assailing the recent survey of Missouri voters commissioned by JAS and two of our Missouri allies and executed by Public Opinion Strategies (a firm the New York Times refers to as “the leading Republican polling company.”)

To refresh: our poll by Public Opinion Strategies showed that a) bipartisan majorities of voters in Missouri support the state’s existing system of choosing many judges through a merit selection system with retention elections; b) super majorities support judges being accountable to the law and Constitution rather than to elected officials or public opinion; and c) Missouri voters have other things on their mind – like health care and taxes – besides opening up the state’s constitution to tinker with judicial selection.
Read more…

No comments

12/20/07 – PA Commission to Replace Mott; WH Lawyers Met w/ CIA About Tape Destruction; Las Vegas Called "Judicial Hellhole"

Democratic committee chair Gustin seeks judicial commission in Mott’s replacement – The Daily Review
Joan Gustin pushes for a “gubernatorial judicial commission” to select nominees for the vacancy created by Bradford County Judge John C. Mott’s retention loss in the fall election.

Clark County Debuts as a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ – KLAS News – Las Vegas
The American Tort Reform Association ranks the Clark County court system fifth worst in the nation, based attorney-judge relationships, judicial elections, low levels of recusals, and judicial misconduct.

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes – The New York Times
At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes. The tapes were destroyed despite a court order directing them to preserve all evidence.

Who should run justice courts? – The Salt Lake Tribune
The state’s Judicial Council, headed by Utah Supreme Court Justice Ronald Nehring, has proposed legislation to sever the perceived ties between judges and attorneys.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

No comments

JAS Daily Blog Monitor 12/19/07

Are All Public Servants Created Equally When It Comes to Private Sector Salary Potential? – Legal Blog Watch

A blog entry discussing the latest movement for Federal Judges wanting s.

Texas Judge Defends Rejection of Killer’s Last Appeal – On Point

Judge Keller of Texas defends her stance on ignoring the last minute appeal of a death row inmate in a law suit filed by the inmate’s widow.

My Latest Legal Hero – Bench Conference – The Washington Post

An entry discussing a military judge’s decision to give a Guatanamo Bay inmate a hearing to determine their status, Prisoner of War or Enemy Combatant. This goes directly against the White House’s position.

No comments

One-Stop Shopping for Judicial Campaign Financing Info

Now you can get information about contribution limits for judicial candidates, reports on campaign financing in key states, and figures from the most recent election cycle (courtesy of the National Institute on Money in State Politics) all in one place. And just in time for the holidays!

No comments

Next Page »