Skewed Justice: How Money in Judicial Elections is Undermining our Criminal Justice System

On Thursday, April 23, ACS hosted a discussion about the effects that money in state judicial elections has on the ability of criminal defendants to receive fair and impartial treatment in the criminal justice system.

A recent ACS report, Skewed Justice, by Joanna Shepherd and Michael Kang of Emory Law School, found that the current explosion in spending on television attack ads in state supreme court elections has made courts less likely to rule in favor of defendants in criminal appeals. This influx of money to judicial elections – due in large part to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United – means that judges are under increasing pressure to act like politicians by avoiding damaging attack ads and burnishing their “tough on crime” bona fides at the expense of real people facing criminal prosecution.

Read Skewed Justice: Citizens United, Television Advertising and State Supreme Court Justices’ Decisions in Criminal Cases by Joanna Shepherd and Michael Kang.

Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy


  • Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations, moderator
  • Honorable James C. Nelson, Justice of the Montana Supreme Court (retired)
  • Tanya Clay House, Director of Public Policy, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
  • Norman Reimer, Executive Director, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Joanna Shepherd, Professor of Law, Emory Law School, co-author of Skewed Justice