Saturday, October 07, 2006

Buying the courts?

Here's the lede of a new post from St. Johns law prof Brian Tamanaha at Balkinization:
The New York Times recently reported on the scandalous degree to which Ohio Supreme Court judges have issued rulings that favor parties who gave them campaign contributions.
An examination of the Ohio Supreme Court by The New York Times found that its justices routinely sat on cases after receiving campaign contributions from the parties involved or from groups that filed supporting briefs. On average, they voted in favor of contributors 70 percent of the time. Justice O'Donnell voted for his contributors 91 percent of the time, the highest rate of any justice on the court.In the 12 years that were studied, the justices almost never disqualified themselves from hearing their contributors' cases. In the 215 cases with the most direct potential conflicts of interest, justices recused themselves just 9 times.
Although the article focuses on Ohio, this is a national pattern, with millions of dollars now flowing into state judicial elections around the country. A statistical study of the Alabama Supreme Court by Andrew Ware also found a "striking" correlation between campaign contributions and the judges' votes.


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