Man runs for Illinois county judgeship on Republican line under the name Phillip Spiwak, loses, wins after switching to Democratic line, running in Cook County, and changing name to Shannon O’Malley. [Abigail Blachman, Injustice Watch/Chicago Sun-Times]
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement put me in mind of one of the issues on which she spoke out following her retirement from the Court, namely the practice in many states of electing judges. In response to a business-backed campaign to promote more direct election of judges, I wrote:
I am not at all convinced that electioneering and noisy public campaigns make a good way of selecting judges. In fact, I think there’s plenty of evidence that those practices contribute to some of the most serious problems of the state courts, and specifically to some of the worst problems facing business in those courts.
On California judicial elections and the Judge Aaron Persky recall, it looks as if Berkeley law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and I come down on the same side [Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News]:
“I want judges deciding cases based on the law and the facts, not public opinion,” he said in an interview Thursday.
Chemerinsky, who has denounced the recall effort against Persky as misguided, again came to the judge’s defense and called the move to unseat him [over a sexual assault sentence perceived as lenient] “troubling.”…
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, said situations like Persky’s can be an easy launchpad for agitators looking to whip up voters.
“It’s very common and easy for rulings that other judges of many different stripes and philosophies agree was the correct decision to get turned into something people can rail against, like saying they’re soft on crime or soft on sexual assault,” Olson said. “It’s easy to make judges look bad for doing what may be a good job.
…“We don’t want a judiciary that keeps an eye on popularity polls when deciding guilt or innocence.”
Four incumbent judges on San Francisco Superior Court are also being targeted at the polls for defeat because, although Democrats themselves, they were appointed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“In the latest issue of Georgetown Law Journal, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turns a critical gaze toward America’s criminal justice system. …one of [the essay’s] major themes is prosecutorial advantage, both in federal and state courtrooms.” Among his topics: judges’ and federal authorities’ reluctance to name or charge misbehaving prosecutors. He thinks the U.S. Department of Justice should drop its opposition to “a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in 2012 — called the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act — that would require federal prosecutors to disclose any evidence ‘that may reasonably appear to be favorable to the defendant in a criminal prosecution.'” (The Department currently follows a less demanding standard on disclosure of adverse evidence). Kozinski also “favors abolishing state judicial elections, among other recommendations.” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog; Alex Kozinski, “Preface,” Georgetown Law Journal Annual Review of Criminal Procedure 2015]
- In November I wrote in Jurist on a Third Circuit panel’s refusal to order that sports great Jim Thorpe be disinterred and reburied under provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); in response, Elizabeth Varner, Diane Penneys Edelman and Leila Amineddoleh of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation argue that the panel could have based its result on specific language in the statute rather than via the roundabout path it did take [Jurist]
- Electing judges, a relic of Jacksonianism, still generating problems today [John Steele Gordon, Commentary]
- “Obama issues ‘executive orders by another name'” [USA Today on Presidential “memoranda”; earlier on executive orders]
- “Legislators Say E-Cigarette Companies Are Bound by an Agreement Reached Before They Existed” [Jacob Sullum]
- Woman upset at exclusion of service kangaroo but agrees to leave McDonald’s [AP, Wisconsin News, earlier (although local law may vary, federal government these days takes view that aside from qualified dogs and some miniature horses, ADA does not require businesses to accept customers’ service animals)]
- Join the crowd: “Various plaintiffs v. various defendants,” an actual case caption [Lowering the Bar]
- “..the very kind of odious racialization of politics that Congress wrote the Voting Rights Act to forbid” [Ilya Shapiro]
- Italian appellate court overturns conviction of seismologists on manslaughter charges following 2009 L’Aquila earthquake [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
- “The most ominous outcome in last week’s election: A band of big-bucks civil attorneys almost picked off an Illinois Supreme Court justice because they believe he’s a threat to their big paydays.” [Chicago Tribune on Karmeier retention] More: lawyers aren’t through with him yet [Madison County Record]
- They were expecting any different? “Landlords Say de Blasio Ignores Their Plight” [New York Times]
- “Liberties,” they said: New York Civil Liberties Union represented complainants who got couple fined $13,000 for not renting farm for a same-sex wedding [Ann Althouse]
- Michael Greve on citizen suits, deadline-forcing consent decrees, and “sue and settle” [Liberty and Law] Why Germany rejects the citizen-suit device [same]
- Harry Reid planning to push through large number of nominees in lame duck session, few more controversial than Sharon Block at NLRB [On Labor] (7 a.m. Thursday update: White House withdraws Block)
- Maricopa County, Ariz. sheriff and perennial Overlawyered favorite Joe Arpaio sues building owners after sidewalk trip/fall “as he headed to a restaurant to get a bowl of soup” [AP/Yuma Sun]
- “Government Is the Biggest Threat to Innovation, Say Silicon Valley Insiders” [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- Acrimonious split between Overlawyered favorite Geoffrey Fieger and long-time law partner Ven Johnson [L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press]
- Case against deference: “Now More Than Ever, Courts Should Police Administrative Agencies” [Ilya Shapiro on Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; boundary between “interpretive” and “legislative” agency rules]
- “The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?” [George Leef, Minding the Campus] Ideological diversity at law schools [Prof. Bainbridge and followup]
- Familiar (to economists) but needed case against state auto dealership protection laws [Matt Yglesias, Vox; our tag]
- Trial lawyers dump millions into attempt to defeat Illinois high court justice Lloyd Karmeier [Chamber-backed Madison County Record, Southern Illinoisan]
- A genuinely liberal regime would leave accreditation room for small Massachusetts college that expects students to obey Biblical conduct standards [Andrew Sullivan, more]
Really, the headline is as good an introduction to this tangled web as any: “Clifford firm contributes $150K to unseat Justice on the same day he’s in court saying campaign money corrupted Supreme Court.” [Madison County Record, related post ten years ago] Also, Illinois election officials say the state may need to have a slow Election Night [The Southern Illinoisan]
Paging the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake! “The law firm that profited the most from insurance suits in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike is sending hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign fund of the former judge who presided over the lion’s share of the litigation.” Houston plaintiff’s attorney Steve Mostyn and his wife Amber have vaulted into the ranks of some of the nation’s top political donors lately. [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine; earlier on Mostyn]
For a second time, labor unions and their allies have failed to unseat a member of the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which badly undercuts their chances of getting the court to invalidate Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. I’ve got details at Cato at Liberty.