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October 2012
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Fair and impartial justice is a bedrock principle in America. Yet, narrow interest groups are spending millions on state judicial contests to stack the courts with judges that see things their way. Take a closer look with our 2012 voter's guide.

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Let America Know is a powerful new e-marketing tool that connects you and your clients with a compelling, customized e-newsletter. Let America Know is also a counter voice to the massive disinformation campaign aimed at our profession. As a trial lawyer, you owe it to yourself - and your future - to find out more! Continue reading.

2012 Voter’s Guide to State Judicial Elections

Flood of Money, Negative Ads Threaten Right to Fair Trial

Attack Ad
Actors posed as killers in what many called the worst judicial attack ad in the 2010 elections. View ad here.

Three darkly silhouetted “murderers” describe their gruesome crimes, and then tell viewers that “Judge Thomas Kilbride sided with us over law enforcement or victims.” Except that these were actors, not real criminals. And the groups funding these outrageous television attack ads – aired during a 2010 retention vote for the Illinois Supreme Court – opposed Kilbride’s record on protecting injured people, not his rulings on criminal cases.

State judicial races have become the new battleground in the ongoing assault against your right to a fair trial. Big business and other narrow special interest groups are spending millions to pack the courts with judges who see things their way. Lost in the fray is the constitutional guarantee of a fair and impartial judiciary along with protections against medical malpractice, defective products, unsafe working conditions, unfair arbitration clauses and other malfeasance. While the presidential elections take center stage this November, You Should Know more about what’s at stake in state judicial elections. Uncover more.  >>>

BY THE NUMBERS /
$83 vs.
$206

Million
Spending on state Supreme Court elections more than doubled from $83.3 million (1990 to 1999) to $206.9 million (2000 to 2009). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests dominated the top 10 list of “super spenders.”

Source: The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2000-2009, Brennan Center for Justice
89%
Worried
Eighty-nine percent of Americans surveyed in 2009 said they were worried that campaign contributions influence a judge's rulings, with 52 percent calling it a “major problem.”

Source: USA Today/Gallup Poll, Supreme Court Case with the Feel of a Best Seller, USA Today
7 of 10
Rulings
Rulings in six states with the most money in judicial elections – Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan – reversed from favoring consumers (1992 to 1998) to favoring corporations 71 percent of the time (1999 to 2010).
 
Source: Big Business Taking Over State Supreme Courts, Center for American Progress
BOOKMARK FAVORITES /

Nonpartisan Group Focuses on Keeping Courts Fair

Justice at Stake leads a nonpartisan group of more than 50 organizations dedicated to keeping the courts fair and impartial through education, litigation and reform. Visit “Your State” National Map for detailed information on state campaigns, or view the latest television ads.

Follow the Money with Sophisticated National Database

The National Institute on Money in State Politics manages a massive database to track the influence of money on state politics and judicial elections. Start with campaign finance in your district, track the influence of industry, or slice and dice the numbers on a national scale.

Brennan Center Uncovers Influence of “Super Spenders”

The Brennan Center for Justice uncovered the explosion in judicial campaign spending during the past decade, much of it poured in by “super spender” organizations seeking to sway the courts. Download the landmark study Decade of Change, 2000-2009 and the recent update 2009-2010.

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Former Judge Warns of Threat to the Integrity of Our Judiciary

A 1996 retention vote put former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny J. White right in the middle of the debate about the impact of special interests and politics on the judiciary.

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