Gavel Grab

Archive for November, 2014

Ruling Could Bring Disclosure to Some Secret Election Money

In a long-running campaign finance case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a Federal Election Commission disclosure rule, saying it was too narrow, the Washington Post reported.

The FEC rule had undermined the intent of Congress “to enable voters to be informed about who was trying to influence their decisions,” the judge wrote. “A donor can avoid reporting altogether by transmitting funds but remaining silent about their intended use.”

The Los Angeles Times said Judge Jackson ruled that “groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors” and her decision “could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections.” Read more

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Justice Ginsburg Has Stent Implanted

ap_ruth_ginsburg_090205_mnU.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a surgical procedure on Wednesday to have a stent implanted in her coronary artery, according to news reports and a statement by the court.

The procedure was conducted on the 81-year-old justice to remove a blockage in an artery in her heart, according to SCOTUSblog. The court’s statement said Justice Ginsburg, who underwent the procedure in Washington, D.C., was expected to be discharged within 48 hours.

Justice Ginsburg went to the hospital on Tuesday night after experiencing discomfort “during routine exercise,” the court said. She was described as resting comfortably.

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Article: ‘Racial Divide Remains Over Views of Justice’

A “Racial Divide Remains Over Views of Justice” after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo. declined to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a young and unarmed black man, the New York Times reported. Part of the gulf of opinion involves our courts.

According to Pew Research polling, the article said, “black mistrust of the police and courts is far more pervasive than it is toward other institutions.”

The article touches on both racial progress in America over the years and a persistent divergence between races in views about the justice system. It opens by quoting Paul McLemore, New Jersey’s first African-American state trooper, who went on to become a civil rights lawyer and later a municipal judge: Read more

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Illinois Justice Karmeier Will Take Oath on Dec. 1

After a count of outstanding ballots from Nov. 4, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier gained several hundred “yes” votes in his bid for retention to another term. He won retention and will be sworn in for his new term on Dec. 1, the Madison-St. Clair Record reported. 

In the multimillion-dollar contest, Justice Karmeier needed a 60 percent “yes” vote to be retained. He got “yes” votes adding up to 60.74 percent.

TV ad spending for and against the retention of Justice Karmeier hit $1.7 million, a record for retention elections in Illinois. Campaign for 2016, a group heavily supported by trial lawyers, spent over $1.1 million against his retention, according to a Justice at Stake and Brennan Center for Justice analysis.  The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national political organization, spent over $960,000 on TV advertising and phone banking in support of Karmeier.

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Wednesday Gavel Grab Briefs

In these other dispatches about fair and impartial courts:

  • U.S. District Judge Carlton Wayne of Mississippi struck down that state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, and U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker of Arkansas struck down a similar ban in Arkansas, SCOTUSblog said.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported, “Supreme Court to Review EPA Rule on Power Plant Emissions/Decision to Review Air Pollution Standards Represents a Setback for Obama Administration.”
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What is the Cost of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Scandal?

An American Law Journal feature on “The Cost of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Scandal and Judges Behaving Badly” includes interviews of guests including Lynn Marks of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a Justice at Stake partner group.

“The porn emails got the headlines,” says Marks, referring to the latest scandal (see Gavel Grab), “but that was just the tip of the iceberg.” PMC is advocating for a switch from judicial elections to merit selection of judges in Pennsylvania. A Legal Intelligencer article about the show is available through Google.

Thanks to the How Appealing blog, a YouTube video of the show is available for viewing by clicking here.

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Brown’s Nominee Would Increase Diversity on California High Court

KrugerGov. Jerry Brown has announced he will nominate Leondra Kruger, a U.S. Justice Department official who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, to sit on the California Supreme Court.

Kruger is 38 and would be the youngest appointee to the court in its history, a law professor told the Los Angeles Times. She is African American and would be the sole African American on the state’s highest court.

If confirmed, Kruger would join Brown’s two other appointees, who are 44 and 42, in bringing down the court’s age considerably. In addition they figure into Brown’s “emphasis on diversifying the state’s bench,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. Kruger would be the second African American woman to serve on the court. Read more

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Judge Censured by Arkansas Commission for Campaign Conduct

A local Arkansas judge was censured by the state Judicial Disability and Discipline Commission for conduct in a campaign this year that the commission said violated rules of ethics for judges.

Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville made “statements that were improperly prejudicial and harassing against his opponent and his opponent’s supporters,” the commission told him in a letter, according to Arkansas News.

The judge’s behavior “went beyond normal election rhetoric and gave the appearance of coercion whether intended or not,” the commission added.

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Justice Beasley Prevails in N.C. Supreme Court Recount

A statewide recount requested by challenger Mike Robinson has confirmed that incumbent North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley won their race on Election Day.

According to a (Raleigh) News & Observer article, Justice Beasley received 5,410 more votes than her rival. He picked up 15 votes in the recount over the first tally.

In the first election cycle since state legislators killed North Carolina’s popular public financing program for judicial campaigns, spending in contests for four seats on the state’s Supreme Court climbed to more than $5.2 million and shattered records this year (see Gavel Grab).

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Tuesday Gavel Grab Briefs

In these other dispatches about fair and impartial courts:

  • In the New York Times,  Adam Liptak explores whether there may be a “tipping point” at which the U.S. Supreme Court becomes comfortable in setting aside state practices, such as bans on marriage for same-sex couples.
  • After voters chose not to retain District Court Judge Sheri Raphaelson of New Mexico, she vowed to stay on the bench. Now the state Attorney General’s office has asked the state Supreme Court to order her removal from her post by Jan. 1, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
  • A Washington Post article by Robert Barnes was headlined, “Supreme Court case tests the limits of free speech on Facebook and other social media.”
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