Report was written by the California Commission on Campaign Financing, a private, non-profit organization formed in 1984. Focus of the report was 1976 to 1994. The Commission interviewed dozens of judges, campaign consultants and academic experts and examined literature on judicial elections.
At time of report, Los Angeles County was home of 9.2 million people, 3.6 million registered voters.
The Commission identified four problems:
· The controversial races create pressure to raise more money.The Commission made the following findings:
· Candidates are forced to solicit campaign contributions from lawyers and litigants.
· Candidates are the largest contributors to the campaigns, leaving them in debt.
· Given the scale of the voting population, candidates lack sufficient money to inform the voters of their merits. Given the nature of the judicial elections, voters lack clues to gage the merits of individual candidates, such as party affiliations, committee assignments, voting records, press releases or policy positions.
· Incumbents easily donate spending and win nearly every time. In the Superior Court contest between 1988-1994, incumbents outspent challengers $55,000 to $29,000 in median expenditures. In the same period, municipal court winners spent a median amount of $48,000, compared to $18,000 for losers.The Commission made the following recommendations:
· 1976 median expenditure by a superior court candidate was about $3,000. By. 1994, the figure was $70,000. Median incumbent spending jumped 95 fold, from just over $1,000 in 1976 to nearly $95,000 in 1994.
· 46% of total campaign dollars raised in Los Angeles County superior court races comes from the candidates' own purses.
· 45% of total outside contributions come from attorneys.
· Contributions to any one judicial candidate from individuals, corporations, labor unions, organizations, and PACs should be limited to $500 per election.
· Judicial candidates should all be given a conditional right to print a free statement in the official countywide voters' pamphlet .
77 Judicature 294(1994)
Marlene Arnold Nicholson and Norman Nicholson
Authors studied funding for judicial races from 1980 to 1990, comparing selected data from recent supreme, appellate, and trial court elections to an earlier comprehensive study of the 1980 through 1984 elections.
The study made the following findings:
· Many judicial elections in Illinois are not real contests. Often, candidates who could not lose received the most contributions. Similarly, candidates sure to lose but sitting as judges at the time of the contribution also received many contributions.
· Small number of candidates raising funds in retention elections suggests fundraising practices for such elections do not currently raise substantial problems.
· Unlike the retention campaigns, partisan elections of supreme court and appellate judges involved active fundraising. All but one of 12 candidates between 1980 and 1990 reported raising funds, with the highest sums being just under $200,000. There was a modest increase in contributions to successful appellate campaigns from approximately $36,000 in 1984 to $40,000 in 1990.
· In 1988, candidates unopposed in both primary and general elections raised an average of $17,225. Some of this fundraising occurred before the filing deadline--when the candidate did not know if there would be opposition.
· In the general elections, more was contributed where only one party had a realistic opportunity to win than where elections were more contested. This included "sure winners" and also included "sure losers" who were sitting as judges at the time of the solicitation.
· Attorneys were the largest single source of contributions for nearly all Judicial campaigns, with higher proportions in the retention elections. Contributions in excess of $1000 were extremely rare.
Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (1996).
Public Resources Council of Louisiana, Inc. (PAR) examined all judicial elections at the district court level and above from 1990 to 1994 and closely analyzed individual contributions for four selected races.
The study made the following findings:
· 61% of Louisiana judges win election without voter approval. Under Louisiana law, an unopposed candidate automatically wins, and the candidate's name simply does not appear on the ballot.The study made the following recommendations:
· 78° of contested elections were won by the contestant who spent the most money. The average winner spent $438,000 for the supreme court, $194,000 for the court of appeal, and $77,000 for the district court. On average winners spent 70% more and incurred 75% more debt: than their closest challengers.
· Winning judges often end elections with large campaign debts. As of February 1995 winning candidates from 1990-1994 with debt had an average outstanding debt of $47,081--ranging from $1,184 to $373,800. Losing candidates had average debt of $27,260. Several judges were still soliciting contributions three years after the campaign. On average, more than 60% of debt was personal loans from the candidate to the campaign.
· Judicial incumbents were rarely challenged (less than 20%) or defeated (6%).
· In three of the four closely scrutinized campaigns, lawyers provided approximately two-thirds of the contributions. The winners of three of the four received a majority of lawyer contributions in their races. The exception was the 1994 Supreme Court election, which received considerable attention in medical and business groups.
· About half the lawyers contributing were plaintiffs' lawyers, but they gave about 63% of the amount contributed by lawyers.
· Plaintiffs' lawyers provided about 40% of the total contributions to all candidates from all sources in the four elections.
· Identifiable contributions from non-lawyer PACs, business and the medical profession ranged from about 14% to 30% of funding for all candidates.
· Adopt merit selection of judges, at least for Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges.
· Put all judicial elections on the ballot.
· Limit fundraising period and limit campaign surpluses.
80 Judicature 21 (1996) Traciel V. Reid
Study focused on four North Carolina Supreme Court elections between 1986 and 1994 as vehicle for evaluating participation of PACs in judicial elections.
The study made the following findings:
· PAC involvement in judicial races is increasing for these reasons: elections are becoming more expensive; states are evolving politically from one party to two party states, movement of federal responsibilities to states enhances policy making power of state appellate judges. From 1986 to 1994, the number of PACs rose from 8 to 29.
· The 1986 election was highly politicized. Republicans focused on the death penalty and Democrats focused on judicial independence and integrity in judicial selection. Total contributions to Supreme Court candidates from all sources was $395,397. PAC contributions made up 4 .5% of total contributions.
· 1990 and 1992 campaigns were lower profile. Total contributions from all sources was $263,404 and $116,516, respectively. PAC contributions amounted to 11% in 1990 and 2.6% in 1992.
· In 1994, a highly publicized campaign was waged for a vacant associate judgeship. Total contributions from all sources was $514,449, 8.4% of which came from PACs.
· The biggest PAC contributor to Supreme Court campaigns was the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, representing plaintiffs' lawyers. Its typical contribution was $4,000 and total contributions for the period studied were $48,000.
· In 1994, business PACs increased in number, and combined to give more money to their candidates than the trial lawyer PAC.
· Only four law firm PACs funded candidates during the study--for a total of $3,500.
· PAC strategy is traditionally risk averse--Sanding expected winner, and tending towards incumbents. This differed in these judicial elections, as in three of eleven races PACs contributed more to challengers than to incumbents. This divergence from expected PAC behavior may be explained by the changing balance of power between the political parties That is, as the Republicans gain power statewide, Republican judicial candidates, including challengers, will continue to garner more PAC support.
Citizens Committee on Judicial Elections was established by Chief Justice Moyer to conduct top-to-bottom review of Ohio's judicial election system in Spring, 1994. An effort was made for a broad perspective--majority of Committee were not attorneys. The Committee's .work was premised on underlying assumption that although judges run for office like other officials, they are different from other politicians, and are held to a higher standard. The Committee conducted hearings, commissioned a poll, met with broad array of experts and interested parties and reviewed research.
The Committee made the following findings:
· Nine out of ten Ohioans believe that judicial decisions are affected by political contributions, and the public clearly questions the impartiality of a judge who sits on a case involving a campaign contributor.The Committee proposed the following reforms of campaign conduct:
· 56% of Ohioans favor spending limits for judicial elections.
· 45% support contribution limits.
· 45% want more reporting requirements.
· 9% favor public financing.
· Compulsory uniform candidate questionnaire concerning candidate qualifications.The Committee proposed the following reforms of campaign finance:
· Changes in speech limitations on candidates
· Compulsory campaign ethics training for candidates.
· Encouragement of voluntary campaign monitoring groups.
· Clarification of candidate's ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the campaign.
· Expedited and enhanced enforcement and sanctions mechanisms.
· Campaign contribution limits (including in-kind contributions and loans) of $500 from individuals and $2500 for organizations (doubled for the Supreme Court).
· Imposition of recusal requirement for judges in cases involving attorneys or parties from whom judge received a significant contribution.
· Limitations on fundraising periods.
· Ban on contributions from court appointees.
· Ban on tiered fundraising events.
· Elimination of campaign surpluses.
· Increased disclosure requirements including full identification of each donor and rapid reporting in the 20 days before an election.
· Limitations on receipt of funds from political parties.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointed this Special Commission to determine whether public perception of judicial elections had caused a loss of respect for the judiciary in Pennsylvania and, if so, what if anything might be done by the Supreme Court to ameliorate this problem. The Special Commission conducted public hearings, met with officials involved in reform efforts outside Pennsylvania, and conducted a telephone poll of 500 Pennsylvania citizens margin of error +/-4.4%.
The Special Commission made the following findings:
· 59% of Pennsylvanian registered voters thought too much was spent on judicial campaigns. After being informed of amounts actually spent, that figure jumped to 81%.The Special Commission made the following recommendations:
· 73% thought judicial candidates received too much from large corporations and PACs. 66% thought they received too much from wealthy individuals. 64% thought they received too much from insurance companies and their PACs. 62% thought they received too much from lawyers and lawyer organizations.
· 88% thought judges' courtroom decisions were influenced at least some of the time by campaign contributions, 37% thought it was most or all of the time.
· 75% thought people and organizations who can afford to make large contributions have more influence in electing judges.
· 64% believed that limiting campaign contributions would improve honesty and integrity in judicial elections.
· 59% strongly favored a $1000 cap contributions to judicial campaigns from individuals; 61% strongly favored a $5000 limit on contributions from organizations or PACs.
· 65% strongly favored reporting of contributions over $100.
· 52% strongly favored a spending limit.
· 46% strongly favored public funding for candidates who did not accept contributions.
· Voters strongly believe that amount spent on campaigns threatens integrity and fairness of elections and judicial rulings. Voters believe special interest contributions dominate ordinary voters. Voters believe the money problem is growing worse. Voters believe contributors expect and receive something for their contributions.
· Voters are more anxious about the judiciary than about other elected offices.
· There is little demographic, geographic, or partisan variation in voters' attitudes on these issues.
· Contribution limits including $1,000/individual, $5,000/legal entity for statewide races.
· Expenditure limits, including $1,000,000 for Supreme Court office, $500,000 for Superior Court and Commonwealth Court office, and $250,000 for Court of Common Pleas.
· Expedited disclosure, accessible on web page designed by the court's administrative office.
· Mandatory recusal of judges in cases where opposing party or counsel has contributed above the limits.
· Public education and enforcement enhancements.
17 Crime, Law & Social Change 91 (1992)
Study analyzed financing of the 1988 Texas Supreme Court races--identified as "probably the most expensive partisan judicial election campaign [dotlessi]n history." Unusual circumstances led to two-thirds of Texas Supreme Court justices' seats being at issue in 1988.
The study made the following findings:
· Three of the four elections From 1982 to 1988 involved at least one million dollar campaign. The 1988 election involved two campaigns each spending more than two million dollars.
· Total contributions to the 1988 general election's twelve candidates were $10,092,955. Including unsuccessful primary candidates the total contributions were $10,374,442.
· The campaigns for the Criminal Court of Appeal involve substantially less expensive campaigns: a $100,000 race is considered expensive. Most expensive of these campaigns was $524,137.
· For 1987 and several earlier campaigns, eight Texas firms or lawyers contributed 17.7% of all funds. All but one of the firms were plaintiffs' firms. Three contributed over $200,000 each.
· Breadth of support varied. Justice Phillips had the broadest support base, with only 11.2% of his contributions from his top ten contributors. His opponent received 22.8% of his contributions from 10 law firms. Others obtained as much as 31.9% from the top ten contributors. Several candidates received their largest contributions From their prior law firms.
· The overall top ten contributors to the races contributed $1,414,021 or 13.6% of all contributions. '
· The top 20 contributors gave 20.7% of the total.
· The top 50 law firms and the Texas Medical Association (TMA) contributed over one-third of all contributions.
· The Fund for Democratic Texas raised 51.4 million, mostly from plaintiffs' lawyers.
· The PAC for the TMA gave $181,355. The TMA also encouraged doctors to contribute directly, which resulted in estimated contributions of $250,000 or more.
pbs online(goto frontline)
Bribing the Witness:
In the summer of 1998 there was a ruling in this case that stunned the
federal criminal justice system. The ruling threatened to forbid federal
prosecutors trading lighter sentences for defendants' testimony in
prosecutions against others.
It was a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which
ruled on the case in July of 1998. They declared that testimony from a
witness who had been offered a lower sentence in exchange for
assistance in the prosecution of a co-defendant violated the federal
bribery statute and should not be admitted. The defendant argued, and
the judges agreed, that such testimony was forbidden since the bribery
statute prohibits giving anything "of value" to a witness in exchange for
testimony. The controversial ruling called into question a fundamental
and longstanding law enforcement practice. Justice Department
attorneys and others called the decision "absurd," noting that if
prosecutors couldn't offer leniency in exchange for testimony,
defendants would have no incentive to plead guilty and the nations'
courts would become clogged with cases. They also argued that if the
ruling was upheld, thousands of federal cases would be jeopardized,
including the convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the
Oklahoma City bombing.
On January 8, 1999 the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the
three-judge panel ruling.
In 1997, Sonya Singleton was convicted of cocaine trafficking and
money laundering after a co-defendant, Napoleon Douglas, testified
against her at trial. In exchange for his testimony, government attorneys
promised that they would not prosecute him for other possible offenses
and that they would bring his cooperation to the attention of the
sentencing judge and the parole board. Singleton was sentenced to 46
months in federal prison. Douglas's sentence was reduced from fifteen
to five years, to be served concurrently with time he had to serve in
Mississippi. On appeal, Singleton's lawyer, Wichita attorney John
Wachtel, argued that the district court erred in allowing Douglas's
testimony into evidence because it violated the federal bribery statute,
which prohibits giving "anything of value to any person, for or because
of the testimony" to be given by that person. This was the first attempt
in the statute's 50 year history to apply it to prosecutors. Wachtel said
he got the idea after reading "Paying the Witness," an article by a
California tax attorney which questioned the logic of calling prosecutor
deals with witnesses "plea bargains" but defense deals "bribery."
Wachtel had raised this argument at trial, but the district court
dismissed the argument in a single sentence ruling: "This statute does
not apply to the Government." However, on appeal, a three judge
panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and
granted Singleton a new trial, finding that the testimony should have
been suppressed. In its opinion, written by Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly
Jr., the court said
The judicial process is tainted and justice cheapened
when factual testimony is purchased, whether with
leniency or money. Because prosecutors bear a weighty
responsibility to do justice and observe the law in the
course of a prosecution, it is particularly appropriate to
apply the strictures of [the bribery statute] to their
However, a week after the three judge decision, the full twelve judge
panel of the 10th Circuit vacated the judgment in order to reconsider
the case again en banc. Critics of the three judge ruling said if it was
upheld it would create an absurdity by making it practically impossible
to prosecute drug and other conspiracy cases successfully. In its brief,
the government called the ruling a "radical departure from history,
practice, and established law" and said that it would "make a criminal
out of nearly every federal prosecutor."
( You mean prosecutors are not criminals? Maybe they need to get off their ass and get some hard evidence instead of relying on convicts.)
On November 17, 1998, the panel heard oral arguments from
Wachtel and Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben. Wachtel
claimed that the government's main argument--that such plea bargains
are too ingrained in the law enforcement system to be eliminated--was
comparable to that of the segregationists in Brown v. Board of
Education. Dreeben argued, among other things, that Congress has
passed a number of other laws--including the provision for departures
from sentencing guidelines for defendants who provide "substantial
assistance" to prosecutors--that assume the legitimacy of current plea
( Here Congress forgets that there are three branches of government to check each other; jail time/ or lack of, and enforcement/or lack of , is the job of the Judicial branch, if it agrees with the laws of congress. Mandatory sentences issued by Congress should be considered unconstitutional)
(On a side note, if felons cannot vote, should they have tax exempt status?, the Boston Tea party was about taxation without representation. Why are conservatives so scared of having felons vote?, are felons smarter?)
On January 9, 1999 the full court issued its 9-3 ruling in favor of the
government. In its decision, the court said that the earlier ruling was
"patently absurd," and noted that "if Congress had intended that
section 201(c)(2) overturn this ingrained aspect of American legal
culture, it would have done so in clear, unmistakable, and unarguable
Before the January ruling, some legislators were so concerned about
the ramifications of the decision that they drafted legislation to trump a
decision in Singleton's favor. Two bills proposing amendments to the
bribery statute which explicitly exempted prosecutors were brought to
the Senate Judiciary Committee, one filed by Senator Patrick Leahy,
D-Vt, and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, and one by Senator Jeff
Sessions, R-Alabama. However, after this decision, it is unlikely that
the Committee will pursue action on those bills.
Although this ruling struck a powerful blow to the argument that
bargained-for testimony is illegitimate, the battle is not entirely over.
Singleton's attorney was quoted as saying that he plans to petition the
U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision, and cases addressing this
issue are currently pending before appeals courts in the 9th, 11th, and
For more on this case, read excerpts from the full court ruling, the
vacated three-judge opinion, the government's brief, and Singleton's
"Snitch" investigates how a fundamental shift in the country's anti-drug laws -- including
federal mandatory minimum sentencing and conspiracy provisions--has bred a culture
of snitching that is in many cases rewarding the guiltiest and punishing the less guilty.
Copyright © 1999 WGBH/FRONTLINE
Innocent people pay the price; since you can now convict on a snitch alone, without any evidence. Law enforcement system seems to be full of worthless shit heads,
the higher the rank, the more worthless the shit heads .
Supreme Court: Fleeing at sight of police can be cause for search.
Decision praised by police
Civil libertarians worried
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled that a person fleeing from police merely at the sight of them can reate
enough suspicion for police to stop and search that person.
(But sometimes the Pigs are so disgusting you feel like running ! hee.. hee.)
The reasonable search decision was based on a Chicago case where Samuel Wardlow fled as a caravan of police cars entered a high-crime area.
Police caught up with Wardlow on the next block. During a pat-down
search, they found a loaded .38- caliber pistol and five rounds of ammunition in a plastic bag he was carrying.
Wardlow was sentenced to two years in prison
for unlawful use of a weapon. His lawyers
appealed, arguing that the search violated the
Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on
unreasonable searches and seizures.
"There was no other factor that would indicate
that a crime was afoot," said attorney Lynn
Weisberg. "The only thing that Mr. Wardlow
did was that he ran."
A state appeals court threw out Wardlow's conviction, and the Illinois
Supreme Court agreed. But by a slim majority, the nation's highest court
"Nervous, evasive behavior is a pertinent factor in determining reasonable
suspicion" to justify a stop, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the
court. "Headlong flight -- wherever it occurs -- is the consummate act of
Rehnquist added, "Allowing officers confronted with such flight to stop the
fugitive and investigate further is quite consistent with the individual's right to go about his business or to stay put and remain silent in the face of police questioning."
He also wrote, "A high crime area (is) among the relevant contextual
The ruling stopped short of giving police a blanket right to stop anyone who runs after seeing the police. "Reasonable suspicion determination must be
based on common sense judgments and inferences about human behavior," the court said.
Police praise decision
The decision drew praise from the National Association of Police
Organizations, which said it would allow police to investigate "highly
suspicious conduct" and that "effective law enforcement requires no less."
"The Supreme Court has said you balance the right of an individual -- to an individual's right of privacy - - with the right of society for effective law
enforcement," said Stephen McSpadden of NAPO, which represents more than 4,000 police unions and associations -- including 250,000 officers.
Civil libertarians worried
Wednesday's decision worried some civil libertarians.
Tracey Maclin, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the
decision "shows how out of touch the majority of the court is with what
happens on the streets of America with respect to police- citizen
Maclin said, "One of the basic liberties of this country is that you've got a
right to say 'no' to the cops," adding that the ruling's practical effect will be to allow police to stop anyone who flees in high- crime areas.
In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that police can stop and question
someone without a warrant if there is reasonable suspicion the person is
involved in a crime or about to commit one.
Rehnquist's opinion was joined by justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin
Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
Stephen G. Breyer agreed with the court's decision not to adopt a rule that
would always authorize police to stop people who run at the sight of police.
But the four, in an opinion written by Stevens, disagreed with the majority's conclusion that Chicago police were justified in stopping Wardlow in 1995.
Senior Washington correspondent Charles Bierbauer, The Associated Press and Reuters