In at least 32 states, legislators sponsored measures to restrict consideration of foreign or religious laws in state court decisions between 2010 and 2012, and six states passed such laws.
A new 50-state analysis the by the National Institute of Money in State Politics finds that lax rules in many states let outside groups sponsor attack political advertising behind a veil of secrecy.
As Jane Kelly prepared to take the oath on Friday as an Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, an Associated Press profile labeled her career as a public defender rare for a judge.
Public defender Ed Sheehy blames the Montana Growth Network for costing him the 2012 Montana Supreme Court race. The organization did not have to report its campaign expenditures under state law.
A Republican-sponsored bill that would restrict the ability of Wisconsin circuit court judges to block state laws has the effect of “putting citizens at risk of irreparable harm from constitutional violations,” according to two critics of the measure.
Rhode Island’s merit selection process to insulate judicial selection from politics has been undermined, according to the watchdog group Common Cause Rhode Island.
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that in the case of same-sex marriages, both parents must be permitted to have their names listed on a newborn child’s birth certificate. The court ruling was premised on the same reasoning applied in Varnum v. Brien.
A judge who sentenced ex-Justice Joan Orie Melvin of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for corruption on Tuesday delivered stern remarks and an unusual order, which a newspaper labeled “humiliation.”
The Pennsylvania Cable Network’s Pennsylvania Neighborhoods program hosted a special panel recently on the state’s selection methods for judges. Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, Lynn Marks, spoke during the panel on proposed efforts to change Pennsylvania’s system of judicial elections.
Robert Edgar, president of Common Cause and a former congressman from Pennsylvania for six terms, died on Tuesday, April 23.
Individuals contributing to political campaigns are looking for more ways to endorse candidates while avoiding campaign finance laws, according to Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices have agreed to hear a case that could have a direct impact on their future retirement plans. On May 8, they will hold arguments on a challenge to the state’s law requiring all judges to retire at age 70, states the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Merit selection isn’t about selecting liberal or conservative judges,” four former Pennsylvania governors said in a letter to the editor refuting the central thesis of a recent critical Wall Street Journal editorial. The editorial said merit selection “has regularly sent state courts to the left.”
A pioneering public financing program for judicial campaigns “has been a big success” and has helped keep special interest influence out of the courtroom, the Brennan Center for Justice says in opposing legislation to eliminate it.
Pennsylvania voters regularly elect their state appellate judges, even though few of them know more than the candidates’ name or gender. A Go Erie opinion argues that Pennsylvanians should heed the advice of four former state governors, and adopt a system of merit selection.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin submitted her resignation on Monday, allowing the state court to “once again operate with a full complement of justices” and saving Pennsylvanians from a “drawn-out removal process,” Lynn Marks said in a statement this week.
The Indiana Law Review Symposium on Merit Selection of Judges was released last week, according to Election Law Blog. It contains articles written by former judges, attorneys and advocates of fair courts. See details in Gavel Grab.
Four former Pennsylvania governors, citing the recent conviction for campaign corruption of a state Supreme Court justice, are urging state legislators to back a switch from partisan elections to a merit-based selection system for choosing appellate judges. Learn more in Gavel Grab.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will be asked to sign legislation passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives to update a voluntary system of public financing for elections of appellate court judges. Read more in Gavel Grab.
The Oklahoma Senate has approved 33-13 a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate merit selection of judges. Oklahoma’s House has not voted yet on the proposal. Learn more in Gavel Grab.
Attempts by Washington state Sen. Michael Baumgartner and other lawmakers to cut the state Supreme Court from nine justices to five – through drawing straws - are “misguided and wrong,” declares a Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial. Find out more in Gavel Grab.
The public should be able to turn to the courts when it loses trust in government, says a Patriot-News editorial, but how can the public trust judges when one is convicted of public corruption?
The Senate has easily confirmed two prosecutors to the federal district court bench in New York. Both are women, and one of them was especially hailed for bringing enhanced diversity to the courts. Learn more in Gavel Grab.
Leaders of the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice and DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar sent a joint statement to Congress this week warning that automatic budget cuts called “sequestration” will imperil the safety of judges and courthouse personnel. See details in Gavel Grab.
Some North Carolina legislators have proposed ending the state's pioneering public financing program for judicial campaigns. Jim Buchanan, Asheville Citizen-Times editorial page editor, says this is the wrong way to go. Learn more in Gavel Grab.