Jun 21 2012
According to the Dallas Morning News, the trial begins today for a Texas woman accused of contributing to a judicial campaign in hopes of receiving a custody decision in her favor. Stacy Stine Cary faces felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, bribery and money laundering for her role in what prosecutors allege was a “complex scheme” to elect now-former-Judge Suzanne Wooten to the Texas bench in 2008.
Ms. Wooten was convicted in November 2011 on the same charges as well as additional charges of tampering with a government document. She was sentenced to 10 years probation, 1000 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine. Cary’s husband, David Cary and Wooten’s campaign manager, James Stephen Spencer also face charges.
This is a clear example of the dangers inherent in requiring judges to campaign for a seat on the bench. Clearly, but for judicial elections, this would not have happened. Judicial elections create the appearance that justice is for sale to the highest bidder and occasionally creates the perfect storm of corruption, as was allegedly the case for Ms. Cary and her cohorts. Merit selection takes judges out of the fundraising business and avoids the circumstances that
can lead to problems like those now on trial in Texas.