Supreme Court Election Campaigns: A Threat to Fair and Impartial Courts?

Can two sides in a lawsuit receive equal justice – when one side has spent $3 million to elect the judge who is deciding the case? That is the question at the heart of Caperton v. Massey, a landmark case that was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 3rd.

That case and its implications for Michigan will be the subject of the Cooley Law Review symposium on March 18th in Lansing.

James Sample of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will lay out the due process and probability of bias argument that was at the core of Caperton v. Massey.

Mike Petro, vice president of the D.C.-based Committee for Economic Development, will describe the process that led some of the biggest names in American business to join an amicus brief “on behalf of corporations and organizations committed to maintaining public confidence in the judicial system in order to promote economic growth and development.”

Judge James A. Wynn of the North Carolina Court of Appeals will discuss his state’s system of publicly financed campaigns for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court - a system designed to give candidates an alternative to raising campaign cash from attorneys and interest groups.

Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network will review a decade’s worth of Michigan Supreme Court campaign finance history - $30 million spent, nearly half of it off the books – and the peril therein for due process in Michigan.

With the Michigan Supreme Court beginning a process to define new recusal standards for itself, this symposium couldn’t be more timely or more compelling.

“Supreme Court Election Campaigns: A Threat to Fair and Impartial Courts?”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Cooley Law School Temple Building, 6th floor auditorium

217 Capitol Ave., downtown Lansing

This event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review and the League of Women Voters of Michigan.

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