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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM

The title of the post links to the US Supreme Court's recent decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey. 

The case reached the Supremes when the West Virginia Supreme Court (motto: "readin and writin at the highest legal levels") voted 3-2 to overturn a 50 million dollar verdict.  

Una momento por favor:  One of the Justices in the majority had received a campaign contribution in an "extraordinary amount"  from the CEO of the company that was appealing the verdict.  

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that Under our precedents there are objective standards that require recusal when the probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker is too high to be constitutionally tolerable.”   

Just how bad were things in West Virginia?  Of two of three judges in the majority, the CEO of the defendant company had contributed 3.5 million dollars to various election committees to get one of the justices elected, and took the other justice on vacation to the French Riviera during the time the appeal was pending.  

Such actions pass muster with Dick Cheney, but no one else.  Justice Kennedy took pains to make sure that the court's recognition of a constitutional violation when an elected judge receives campaign contributions from on of the parties does not cause a flood of recusal motions: 
Our decision today addresses an extraordinary situation 

where the Constitution requires recusal.  Massey and its 

amici predict that various adverse consequences will 

follow from recognizing a constitutional violation here— ranging from a flood of recusal motions to unnecessary 

interference with judicial elections.  We disagree. The 

facts now before us are extreme by any measure.  The 

parties point to no other instance involving judicial cam­ 

paign contributions that presents a potential for bias 

comparable to the circumstances in this case. 


Query: When do we see our first "Caperton motion" to disqualify a Judge in Dade because the attorney for one of the parties works in a law firm that raised a $100,000.00 for the Judge? 


And once that happens, and it will,  who will our poor dear robed readers turn to for campaign contributions?


While the Caperton case is extreme, even for Dade,  the ruling is best viewed as the beginning of a new area of litigation, not the end. 


See you in court, saying "show me the money!"



1 comment:

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Again thank you and please contact me ASAP if any info.