Brennan Center Research

Recent publications from the Brennan Center include The New Politics of Judicial Elections and How Judicial Elections Impact Criminal Cases.

June 6, 2016

Judicial Selection

  • Judicial Selection: A Look at California (2017) —  This analysis looks at California's judicial appointment system, and finds that while this method is effective in California, it may not have sufficient built-in safeguards to successfully export the model to other jurisdictions. 
  • Judicial Selection for the 21st Century (2016) — This report examines the history of judicial selection in state courts, challenges to contemporary reform, and proposes values to consider in future reform efforts.
  • Judicial Retention in Hawaii: A Case Study (2016) — This analysis looks at the use of nominating commissions for judicial retention, a system which is unique to Hawaii. It finds that many of its features help promote a nonpartisan and independent judiciary, but that it could be improved by increased transparency. 
  • Rethinking Judicial Selection in State Courts (2016) — This analysis examines problems state courts face in selecting judges, offers a framework for considering the values judicial selection should promote, and proposes considerations that should inform potential reform efforts.

Judicial Diversity

  • Building a Diverse Bench (2017) — This manual outlines best practices for promoting more diverse magistrate and bankruptcy court benches.
  • Improving Judicial Diversity (2009) — This study examines how successful states with appointed judiciaries are at recruiting and appointing women and racial minorities to sit on the bench, aiming to provide an accurate picture of the diversity in state courts and a roadmap of how to improve diversity on the state bench.

Judicial Recusal

  • Fair Courts: Setting Recusal Standards (2008) — This paper focuses on how judges, courts, legislators, and litigants can maximize the due process protection that stronger recusal rules potentially afford, offering ten proposals to strengthen the fairness and legitimacy of state recusal systems.

See our resource page for more information on Judicial Refusal Reform.