Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
Great story this morning in the New York Times, Looking Anew at Campaign Cash and Elected Judges, by Adam Liptak in his Tuesday column on legal matters. This one is on correlating campaign finance for state court judges and their later decisional voting patterns. This issue was already heating up because of the recent mess in the West Virginia Supreme Court noted by Mike here and also at Legal Ethics Forum, but surprisingly the Times does not explore that obvious and direct example. Instead it deals with more subtle patterns found by statistical methodology in Louisiana and another notable example from 2006 in Ohio.
The Times' Louisiana example features a study coauthored by my colleague Vernon Palmer, and quotes him to good advantage in the article. Very interesting stuff, and all should look forward to Vernon's article appearing next month. The "article's conclusions, to be published next month in The Tulane Law Review, are not pretty. In nearly half of the cases they reviewed, over a 14-year period ended in 2006, a litigant or lawyer had contributed to at least one justice, sometimes recently and sometimes long before. On average, justices voted in favor of their contributors 65 percent of the time, and two of the justices did so 80 percent of the time."
Not pretty, indeed.