Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

North Carolina Supreme Court Switches to Retention Elections

North Carolina judges are initially selected in contestable elections and most must prevail in contestable elections to win another term of office. But a new law allows NC Supreme Court justices to secure another term by merely winning a retention election, in which voters choose whether or not to retain the justice but there is no opposing candidate. Nationally, judges nearly always win retention elections.

Judges' Impose Tougher Sentences When Nearing Re-Election or Retention Vote

"Judges are more likely to hand out harsh sentences, including death, the closer they get to a re-election or retention election campaign," concludes Kate Berry of the Brennan Center.

Her study, How Judicial Elections Impact Criminal Cases, "looked at 10 empirical studies examining whether and how judicial elections impact criminal justice outcomes. These studies, conducted across states, court levels, and type of elections, all found that proximity to re-election made judges more likely to impose longer sentences, affirm death sentences, and even override sentences of life imprisonment to impose the death penalty."