How Appealing noted a McClatchy article about a study that concluded that business donations to elected judges leads to business friendly rulings. 

The study that the article discusses concludes:

The growing importance of money in judicial elections gives interest groups the opportunity to shape the judiciary. Although any interest group that is able to marshal sufficiently large campaign contributions might exert influence over the judiciary, under current circumstances, business groups are likely to be unique in their ability to do so because of a focused agenda and considerable resources at their disposal.

Using a new dataset from the 2010-2012 period, this study’s empirical analysis confirm a statistically significant, positive relationship between campaign contributions from business groups and justices’ voting in favor of business interests. The more campaign contributions from business interests the justices receive, the more likely they are to vote for business litigants when they appear before them in court.  

The noted pre-disposition is more pronounced with Democratic justices, presumably because Republicans are more predisposed to rule for business anyway.

Nine states have partisan elections for judges. Twelve states (including Mississippi) have nonpartisan elections.

My Take:

State court judges should be appointed–not elected. This is especially true for appellate judges.

A litigant–any litigant–should not have to worry about whether an opponent was a big contributor to a judge who will decide their case. Can anyone seriously deny that statement?

Also, a Mississippi Supreme Court Justice should not have to go beating the bushes every eight years raising money to fund a campaign. They can’t want to do it, and I hate seeing them have to do it.

If you are a lawyer and you get an invitation to a judge’s fundraiser, what’s your reaction? I’m going to guess it’s something other than joy.

Do I contribute? Will he or she know whether I contribute? Do I attend the fundraiser so he or she will know I made a contribution? How much do I contribute? How much is too little? How much is too much?

And then the realization: this system sucks.

There may not be a perfect system for selecting judges. But the one we use in Mississippi can’t be the best system.