Wrapping up an election year in which TV spending for Supreme Court candidates soared in the final weeks, the Brennan Center has reported that total spending this year was 24 percent greater than in the 2006 cycle.
In its final “Buying Time 2008” report, Brennan said that:
Candidates, interest groups, and political parties combined to spend $19,861,269 on television advertisements in state Supreme Court elections nationwide this year, announced two national watchdog groups. That figure is up 24 percent from 2006, when they spent barely more than $16 million.
Spending skyrocketed in the week and a half before the election. Between October 24 and November 4 spending on TV ads jumped $7,703,954, up from $12,157,315. Michigan and Alabama joined Wisconsin, where candidates and interest groups there combined to spend $3,789,157 before the general election earlier in the spring, in surpassing $3 million on TV advertising. Spending on advertising in Michigan totaled $3,644,179 and in Alabama total spending on TV advertising was $3,538,361.
Thomas M. Burke, president of the Missouri Bar Association, has congratulated Greene County voters for deciding to choose local trial-level judges through the same system of merit selection and retention elections now used for state appellate judges. In an opinion column in the Springfield News-Leader, he praised the system, also known as the Missouri Plan, as “the best way to choose judges for their growing community.”
The article noted that, as one of Missouri’s fastest-growing counties, Greene County faced ever more expensive partisan elections for judges, and said the need to get elected through name recognition and reputation was becoming more difficult for judicial candidates.
Burke also mentioned another Nov. 4 election result that had supported merit selection:
“Voters in our adjoining state in Johnson County, Kan., also showed their commitment to keep politics out of the courts by rejecting a ballot initiative that would have replaced their merit selection process with partisan election of judges.”
A Las Vegas judge who has been under fire for, among other things, allegedly falling asleep on the bench has been removed from office and banned from ever seeking another judicial post in Nevada, according to the Associated Press. Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, who failed in her bid for re-election in August, was ousted because of her “dismal professional history,” a state panel said.
The ruling, from the Commission on Judicial Discipline, had been delayed due to health problems that Halverson says were related to an assault by her husband. He since has been convicted in the attack.
The AP said:
“Halverson, first elected a judge in 2006, was suspended in July 2007 after she was accused of mishandling trials, mistreating staff, falling asleep on the bench, and other charges. She blamed vindictive colleagues and disgruntled employees for the complaints.”
Halverson received just 10 percent of the vote in the August election, and her term originally was scheduled to end in December. The commission ordered that her ouster be sped up several weeks, and ruled that she should not be allowed to seek judicial office again, saying that history could repeat itself if she ever returned to the bench.
It took ten days before Judge Deborah Bell Paseur finally conceded last Friday to Judge Greg Shaw, ending an Alabama Supreme Court race whose tone and “obscene” cost sparked complaints from state newspapers and the president of the American Bar Association.
The candidates raised a total of $3.8 million, according to their last pre-election filings, the costliest race in the United States this year. In addition, the Virginia-based Center for Individual Freedom spent $965,000 on an independent TV ad campaign, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.
In addition, various ads and campaign tactics had both candidates, and the Alabama State Bar Association, fuming.
Paseur, making an issue of business PAC money that funded a large chunk of Shaw’s campaign, ran an ad saying she had never taken a cent of oil-industry money and added, “Deborah Can’t Be Bought.” The ad enraged Shaw, who said his integrity was being challenged.
On the other side, an out-of-state interest group made “push poll” calls stating that Paseur had received a grade of “F” from the Alabama State Bar. The Bar denounced those calls, calling them (more…)