The Judicial Ethics Forum (JEF)

An Academic Discussion of Judicial Ethics, Discipline & Disqualification

New Scholarship: Sample on Caperton and Post-Caperton State Court Reform

Posted by judicialethicsforum on Saturday, May, 22, 2010

Professor James Sample (Hofstra), formerly of Brennan Center fame, has just completed two fine works on Caperton and state court responses.  Here is the abstract to the first, which provides a good current-events survey of post-Caperton developments and can be found in this year’s Joint American Judicature Society-Drake Law Review Symposium:

This Article considers the significant state court reform developments in the year following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., as well as ancillary federal developments, including renewed congressional interest in judicial disqualification. Picking up on the author’s view that “paradoxically for a decision overturning a state justice’s non-recusal, the majority’s approach is a model of cooperative federalism,” the Article focuses primarily on the initial developments pertaining to money in the courts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and West Virginia in the short period since the decision. The Article notes that while recusal practices have certainly been one focal point of developments in the states, Caperton has also provided a significant boost to judicial public financing. After considering tangible developments in the three identified states, the Article briefly points to more nascent judicial independence efforts in other states, in which Caperton connections are less direct, but where the case is nonetheless figuring prominently in rejuvenated efforts to modify judicial selection practices. The Article asserts that, while not all of the post-Caperton developments have improved the judicial impartiality landscape, on balance, the decision is already producing meaningful improvements in protecting the courts from the influence of money.

James J. Sample, Court Reform Enters the Post-Caperton Era, 58 Drake L. Rev. 787 (2010).  Featured in Syracuse Law Review’s Caperton Symposium (which, by the way, contains several other good reads), Professor Sample’s second article makes the provocative claim, among others, that Caperton is a model of federalism.  James J. Sample, Caperton: Correct Today, Compelling Tomorrow, 60 Syracuse L. Rev. 293 (2010). 

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