Memo Provides Guidelines for Judicial Candidates in Midwest
The Midwest Democracy Network, an alliance of political reform networks in five Midwestern states, and the Justice at Stake Campaign, a nonpartisan national partnership that works to keep politics out of the courts, has issued a nine-page memo, mailed to judicial candidates in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, warning of the dangers posed by rising campaign costs, angry and misleading television ads, and growing ethical quandaries over what to say on the campaign trail about cases that might land in court. The memo calls on the more than 700 judicial candidates to follow new campaign conduct guidelines that help them steer clear of special interest pressures and political agendas.
The memo said that judicial candidates can and must negotiate these challenges to promote continued public confidence that courts are fair, impartial, and accountable to the law. Candidates were advised that their campaigns are a "golden opportunity" to positively educate the public about the role of courts. "Special interest pressure may be rising, and canons of conduct might be loosening, but judicial candidates have all the power they need to preserve public confidence in impartial courts -if their own conduct is guided by a series of best ethical practices," the document says.
"Unfortunately, the Midwest has been a Ground Zero for court elections that have all the worst aspects of special interest politics," said Michael McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which is a member of the Midwest Democracy Network. …