23 November 2010

NOTICE: Palmer on the Louisiana Supreme Court

Professor Palmer has just informed me of his 'corrected' study of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Both Louisianians and non-Louisianians will find it interesting. - SPD

Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to inform you that my corrected study has just been published in Global Jurist (Berkeley Press). Please see my covering “note” to the reader below, and you may access the article without charge through the links indicated.

Best wishes, Vernon

New Corrected Study on the Louisiana Supreme Court
and Campaign Contributions
Published in Global Jurist - November, 2010.
Read the Article in Global Jurist

A Note from the Author - Vernon Palmer:

It is the duty of a scholar, I believe, to admit and correct his errors. The important thing is to set the record straight and to advance the truth.

In that spirit I am presenting my latest publication, The Recusal of American Judges in the Post-Caperton Era: An Empirical Assessment of the Risk of Actual Bias in Decisions Involving Campaign Contributors. This new article expands upon and carefully corrects my previous study published in the Tulane Law Review (2008) concerning the influence of campaign contributions on the Louisiana Supreme Court. The previous study was sharply criticized by the Justices who pointed out a number of errors in the data and called for corrections and an apology.

After two years of painstaking research and rechecking, here are my republished results.

The striking thing is that the overall conclusions of the first study remain basically unchanged. Furthermore, the calculations have been independently confirmed and replicated by an outside research institute. Thus the present study rests not only on a strong foundation but it reaffirms the general finding that the Court’s refusal to recuse itself in campaign contributor situations is a threat to the court’s own impartiality and reveals a risk of actual bias.

The findings are summarized on pp. 6-9 of the text. Among other things they show the Court, as a whole, votes for its contributors on average about 65% of the time (in nearly two out of three cases); individually, certain Justices greatly exceed 65%. One Justice voted for his contributors’ side of the case 100% of the time. That percentage reflects a serious risk of actual bias. There is also evidence of similar risk when the Court faced contributors on both sides of the case. The voting of certain Justices was anomalous. They sharply favored the larger of the two contributors, regardless of the side he was on, and though it contrasted with their general voting tendency when no money was involved.

The expanded investigation also brings to light, for the first time, detailed data about the occult and little-known practice of accepting campaign contributions from litigants in cases under deliberation. The data reveal that a number of Justices vote for the position of their sub judice contributors 100% of the time. This has an appearance of impropriety and also reflects a significant risk of actual bias.

© 2010 - Vernon Palmer

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