May 28 2010
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin is accusing his opponent, lawyer Tracy Cary, of hypocrisy after he openly criticized the high cost of judicial elections and later inserted massive funds into his campaign, Gavel Grab reported.
A statement on Cary’s website reads:
I will not participate in the outlandish fund-raising of past judicial campaigns. This is only a start but I want to do my part to help restore public confidence in our courts.
Justice Bolin’s campaign manager accused Cary of purchasing $650,000 in ads after the deadline to report campaign contributions.
In a statement, Cary called his original stance on fundraising “naïve” and said:
I needed TV ads and di
ether the judge is more accountable to a campaign contributor or an ideological group than to the law.
In Pennsylvania, such concerns may arise more often than not. A recent study showed that in 2008-09, over sixty percent of the cases before the PA Supreme Court involved a litigant, lawyer, or law firm that had previously donated to at least one justice on the bench.
And as the cost of judicial campaigns continues to rise to stratospheric heights, these donations are crucial to a prospective judge’s campaign:
This year, 16 states will hold contested elections for seats on their highest courts, and candidates will raise and spend millions of dollars for their campaigns. In 2008 alone, nearly $20 million was spent on TV advertising in contested elections for 26 state supreme court seats.
Again, Pennsylvanians can relate. The cost of the 2009 Supreme Court election between now Justice Joan Orie Melvin and Superior Court Judge Jack Panella reached $4.7 million.
There is legislation pending in Harrisburg that would enable voters to decide for themselves how they would like their state appellate judges to be selected. Pennsylvanians should be afforded the opportunity to choose merit.