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.
The retention campaign for liberal Florida Supreme Court Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince is “outspending the opposition 20-to-1,” fueled by large donations from plaintiff’s injury law firms that practice before the court, such as the law firms of Wayne Hogan, Tom Edwards, and Fred Levin, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, Grossman Roth, and Pajcic & Pajcic — not to mention defense lawyers. [Orlando Sentinel]
P.S. And from which side do you think the left-leaning Justice at Stake detects a threat to judicial independence? Right. You guessed it. See also ABA Journal [proposals to cut state bar out of judicial nomination process classed among "legislative attacks" on independent judiciary. Meanwhile, no quantity of vitriolic and demagogic attacks on jurists over such decisions as Citizens United or Concepcion ever seem to get classed as menacing judicial independence].
The good, the bad, and the beyond belief:
- “Ten Commandments” judge no favorite with business defendants: “Trial lawyers putting their campaign cash behind Roy Moore for Alabama chief justice” [Birmingham News via Charlie Mahtesian, Politico; same thing twelve years ago]
- From James Taranto, a brief history of Supreme Court leaks [WSJ "Best of the Web," mentions my Daily op-ed]
- Pennsylvania: Judge’s swearing-in ceremony “was filled with appreciation to those who helped him get elected, including some convicted felons” [Judges on Merit; Walter Phillips, Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Roberts just carrying forward the Frankfurter-Bickel-Bork tradition of judicial deference? [Steven Teles, Carrie Severino, further Teles] Ted Olson on just-finished Supreme Court term [FedSoc and video]
- Columnist-suing attorney doesn’t lack funding in race for appellate judgeship in Illinois’ Metro-East [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
- Study: SCOTUS Justices time their resignations depending on political party of President [James Lindgren, Volokh]
- Alameda County judge charged with elder theft, perjury [The Recorder]
- Profile of 5th Circuit’s Edith Jones; law wasn’t her first career choice, and Cornell riots influenced her path [Susanna Dokupil, IWF]
“Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder was dropped Tuesday from hearing all asbestos cases less than a week after her campaign committee received $30,000 in contributions from three metro-east asbestos law firms.” [Belleville News-Democrat, followup (says she'll return money); Chamber-backed Madison/St. Clair Record, followup]
One of the most highly regarded right-of-center state court jurists is up for re-election this year in my native state, and drawing some of the slimiest attacks from Democratic strategists. A sample: they’re hyping still photos of Young with his eyes closed on the bench, supposedly “sleeping,” when videotape context from moments before and after reveals the Justice to be simply blinking or glancing down. Instance #87,231, I’d say, of why it’s dubious to go to the mat in principle for the notion of selecting judges by partisan contested election. More: Tim Skubick/Oakland Press, The Blog Prof.
Imagine that: the court’s decision to strike down a duly enacted medical malpractice law was controversial enough that Justice Thomas Kilbride might actually have a retention fight on his hands. [Chicago Tribune]
Alabama, Mississippi and Texas all host hotly fought races with a strong plaintiff-vs.-defendant dimension tomorrow: Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur vs. Republican Greg Shaw in Alabama, three challengers vs. three incumbents on the Mississippi Supreme Court, and Democratic challengers Jim Jordan, Linda Yanez and Sam Houston in races for the Texas Supreme Court. (Tom Baxter, Southern Political Report, Nov. 3).
If you’re not visiting my other site — or subscribing to it in your RSS reader, or following its Twitter feed — here’s some of what you may have missed lately:
Longtime readers may recall (Oct. 24-25, 2001) what we described as the “unusually bare-knuckled” tactics, “even by Philadelphia standards”, of the Philly political machine when a business-oriented advocacy group called Pennsylvania Law Watch organized with a plan to issue ratings of judges statewide. We quoted the Philadelphia Daily News at the time:
“State Sen. Vincent Fumo prompted some controversy last month when he told the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that anyone who helped [Republican judge/candidate Michael] Eakin by donating to Pennsylvania Law Watch ’should expect to be arrested,’ according to a witness at the chamber meeting, who also said Fumo mentioned Richard Sprague as a member of a team of attorneys ready for action.”
Although no one was literally arrested, three local Democratic politicians proceeded to file a suit against Pennsylvania Law Watch seeking “a freeze on Law Watch’s assets, the right to go through its books, an injunction against its activities, and more.” Almost before the episode got any national attention, the case settled, “with Law Watch agreeing with Pennsylvania Democrats that ‘it would not attempt to influence the statewide judicial elections through advertising, ‘push polling’ or any other kind of communication with the public'”.
Now, six years later, and with no direct relation to the above, longtime powerbroker and State Sen. Fumo is going to trial in federal court “on charges he used $3.5 million in what he called ‘OPM’ _ other people’s money _ to keep his political machine well-oiled and fund a high life that included three vacation homes and heated sidewalks outside his mansion. Jury selection is expected to last a week, and the trial three months.” [AP/Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, AP/York Daily Record, Philadelphia Daily News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review].