A very strongly worded editorial, entitled "Death Meted Out by Politicians in Robes." the Times' editors write "In nearly all of the 32 states that permit capital punishment, a jury makes the final decision on whether a defendant will live or die. Not so in Alabama, where elected judges may override a jury verdict of life in prison and unilaterally impose a death sentence." "Justice Sotomayor rightly identified the reason Alabama’s judges impose more death sentences per capita than any other state. The judges, she wrote, 'who are elected in partisan proceedings, appear to have succumbed to electoral pressures.'”
Of course, a candidate running for office in Alabama may benefit from the opposition of the New York Times. I recall that when I first moved from New York City to Alabama, I saw a bumper sticker that read "If you love New York, take I-95 North."
My own writing on judicial elections in Alabama is here.