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NCJ Number: 73432 Find in a Library
Title: Merit Retention Elections - Can the Bar Influence Voters?
Journal: Judicature  Volume:64  Issue:5  Dated:(November 1980)  Pages:234-241
Author(s): J A Stookey; G Watson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Active participation by State and local bar associations in the form of a bar poll and its dissemination to the public is evaluated as a politically effective mechanism for overcoming the lack of voter interest in judicial retention elections.
Abstract: The judicial elections in 1978 in Maricopa County, Ariz., were selected as a test case of the impact that the active opposition of a bar association can have upon the judicial retention elections of judges. Three judges who received less than 65 percent approval from a random sample of 1,000 lawyers in Arizona were actively opposed by the Arizona Bar Association through paid newspaper advertisements, printed material distributed to the public, and a speakers' bureau. The results of a telephone survey of 285 randomly selected voters conducted for 3 evenings immediately following the election revealed that 44 percent of the sample could name at least 1 of the 24 judges up for retention, a considerably higher level than measured voter awareness of the bar poll was extensive, as indicated by levels of public awareness above 60 percent among nearly all classes of voters. Also, a much higher correlation was found between awareness of the bar's opposition and the ability to name the bar-opposed judges than among those unaware of the bar's opposition. In addition, the three judges opposed by both the bar and a newspaper received the highest percentage of 'no' votes. Therefore, a county bar association, with the cooperation of the media, can greatly enhance the salience of judicial retention elections and even influence voters to oppose the retention of some judges. However, a fundamental question yet to be answered is whether the public and the bar association evaluations of judges will be similar, assuming an expanded role for bar associations in judicial retention elections. Twenty-two footnotes and six tables are provided.
Index Term(s): Accountability; Arizona; Case studies; Judge censure and removal; Judge retention elections; Judge selection; Media coverage; Media support; Public Attitudes/Opinion
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