The case before the Supreme Court crystallized the problem with elected judges: A West Virginia appellate judge received $3 million in campaign contributions from the head of a company appealing an adverse $50 million punitive damages award. Ignoring calls for his recusal, the judge ended up casting the deciding vote to toss the punies. In a 5-to-4 ruling, the high court decided the potential for bias in such a case, involving "substantial" campaign contributions, violated due process. But in his dissent, the chief justice warned of a flood of meritless recusal motions.
High Court Rules Judges Who Receive 'Substantial' Campaign Donations Must Step Aside; Will Chaos Follow?
June 8, 2009
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