June 12, 2015

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

2015 ACS National Convention, 2015 National Convention, Skewed Justice

Erica Hashimoto

University of Georgia School of Law
Begin: 0:00

Hon. Sue Bell Cobb

Alabama Supreme Court
Begin: 14:16

Tracey George

Vanderbilt University
Begin: 5:03

David Kope

Cato Institute
Begin: 25:55

Nkechi Taifa

Open Society Foundations
Begin: 21:20

A recent ACS report, Skewed Justice, 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 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. Coupled with structural inequities that critics claim make it difficult for defendants to obtain real justice, does money in judicial elections threaten the legitimacy of our criminal justice system? What doe the experiences of judges teach us about how to maintain an independent judiciary in the face of these pressures? What role can those who represent the criminally accused play in protecting a criminal defendant's due process rights to an impartial judge?


  • Erica Hashimoto, Allen Post Professor of Law and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professor, University of Georgia School of Law
  • Hon. Sue Bell Cobb, Former Chief Justice, Alabama Supreme Court
  • Tracey George, Professor of Law and Political Science, Vanderbilt University
  • David Kopel, Research Director, Independence Institute; Associate Policy Analyst, Cato Institute; Adjunct Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations