Americans think ‘justice is for sale’

October 29, 2013
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Money talks, the saying goes, and many Americans think it’s telling judges how to rule on cases, according to results of a poll released Thursday.

Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice commissioned the poll that found nearly 9 out of 10 Americans believe campaign donations affect courtroom decisions.

“They’re worried that justice is for sale,” Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, said in a news release.

The poll asked 1,200 registered voters about campaign donations made directly to judges’ campaigns as well as about “independent spending,” in which outside groups spend their own money on TV ads and other election materials for or against a judicial candidate. The poll revealed that 87 percent of voters believe both kinds of spending have either “some” or “a great deal” of influence on judges’ decisions.

A judge should step aside, 92 percent of voters said, when one party in the case has either donated directly to the judge’s campaign or spent significantly on election materials designed to help elect the judge.

According to a new report by the two groups, independent spending on judicial races by special interest groups hit a record high in 2011-2012 of $15.4 million.

Randall T. Shepard, former Indiana chief justice, is a member of Justice at Stake’s board of directors. The group’s focus is keeping courts fair and impartial.


 

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  • agree justice is for sale
    I had 3 judges say NO to my case and one judge that is not in the same county and really no attorney understands why he making a judgment on a case from a different county says it is in the best interest but the counselors and psychiatrist says NO he is the only one who says Yes and don't care how it is effecting the most important subjects of the case shame on you judge so yes money talks favors called in however you spin it

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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