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BRIGHT IDEAS: Political Scientists Chris W. Bonneau and Melinda Gann Hall on the Judicial Elections Controversy

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4 Responses

  1. Frank Pasquale says:

    Hall stated that “Attack ads have no impact on the electoral fortunes of state supreme court incumbents in partisan elections.” Why do those who oppose the incumbents purchase the ads? Has the marketing industry conned them into thinking ads have an effect?

  2. Melinda Gann Hall says:

    Re Mr. Pasquale: Probably for the same reasons that challengers spend extraordinary amounts of money in many American elections when incumbents have an advantage that is hard to overcome under most circumstances. Challengers take chances and may actually believe that attack ads are effective, either by their own judgment or after being convinced of this by marketing agents. But in partisan elections, attack ads are just as likely to backfire against the sponsor. Scholars do not yet understand this process very well so it’s hard to say why this happens, but it clearly does.

  3. Jim Byrne says:

    In 1940 (when the so-called non-partisan plan was adopted in Missouri) the Missouri Bar Association was a benevolent society. It was seperate and distinct from Missouri’s Judiciary. Just four years after adoption on “The Plan”, the Missouri Supreme Court, via its newly acquired power to create rules for practice and procedure, made the Missouri Bar Association a Committee of the Missouri Supreme Court. Now, instead of the Court only having one vote, they had 4 of the 7 votes. –This change in structure of the non-partisan plan took place without the knowledge or concurrence of the votes (who had approved a completely different plan 4 years earlier).

    In addition, only two judges have ever been removed via retention election. The first was removed, not for being a bad judge, but because he was supported by Boss Tom Pendergast. The second, Judge John Hutcherson, lost retention after three Bar Associations (including the statewide Missouri Bar Association) gave him terrible reviews. –Just 4 years after losing retention, John Hutcherson applied with the Missouri Supreme Court to be a “Senior Judge”. The Missouri Supreme Court accepted John Hutcherson’s application and placed him on the bench in 9 other counties. Hutcherson even boasted about what a good deal it was for Missouri, because he was hearing so many cases at a discounted rate.

    Don’t even get me started on the “Show” that was created to deal with “Bad Judges”. Even the Bar Insiders refer to it as CRUD.

  4. Jim Byrne says:

    In addition, only two judges have ever been removed via retention election. –In Missouri