Donations buying favorable rulings?

August 22, 2011
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Here’s another reason why judges shouldn’t be elected.

We were recently contacted regarding a fundraiser for Marion Superior Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy. A flyer advertising the event suggests contributions attendees can make, but it also implies that the judge can be bought.

Here’s exactly how it’s written:

Suggested Contributions:
$150 “Sustained”
$250 “Affirmed”
$500 “So Ordered”
$1,000 “Favorable Ruling”

I get that the organizers want to have a creative and legal-related way to categorize your donation amount, something different that “bronze, gold, or silver” but this really misses the mark.

Maybe a lawyer would think it’s clever, or maybe they would not. I bet most of the general public who saw the flyer would think this judge’s decision on a ruling could easily be swayed by a mere $1,000. I hope that wasn’t Judge Pierson-Treacy’s intent, or the intent of those who are hosting the event: Linda Pence, Lacy Johnson, and Greg Hahn. I would hope her husband, Ed Treacy, the Marion County Democratic chair, also doesn’t want people to think the judge can be bought.

Electing judges puts them in the tricky position of soliciting money for campaigns while maintaining impartiality. One would hope if someone wrote a “Favorable Ruling”-sized check that Judge Pierson-Treacy – or any judge receiving political donations – would remain impartial. (After news of this flyer hit other blogs and Indianapolis media and after I wrote this post, one news outlet reported that the September fundraiser was cancelled.)

It’s that time of the year when campaigns are holding fundraisers and soliciting donations. Have you received any other campaign material from judges up for election that you find questionable? What are your thoughts on Judge Pierson-Treacy’s committee’s choice of words describing contributions?

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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