Brennan Center Research
Recent publications from the Brennan Center include The New Politics of Judicial Elections and How Judicial Elections Impact Criminal Cases.
- Who Pays for Judicial Races? The Politics of Judicial Elections 2015-16 (2017)— Since 2000, the Brennan Center's The New Politics of Judicial Elections series has documented the alarming rise of money in judicial elections, the dramatic upsurge in special interest group involvement, and the tendency of judicial campaigns to become "noisier, nastier and costlier." See reports from past election cycles here.
- Legislative Appointments for Judges: Lessons from South Carolina, Virginia, and Rhode Island (2017)— This analysis examines the history of legislative appointments for judges in the three states that used legislative appointments, and warns of common problems legislative appointments can pose to an impartial and independent judiciary.
- 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.
- Diversity on the Bench: Not Just an American Problem (2017) — This analysis examines Canada's recent changes in judicial selection. It examines reasons Canada's judiciary, like that of the U.S., fails to reflect the diversity of its population.
- Appointed and Advantaged: How Interim Vacancies Shape State Courts (2017)— This analysis examines the long-term effects interim appointments have on the judiciary, particularly in states that use elections for subsequent terms on the bench.
- 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.
- How Judicial Elections Impact Criminal Cases (2015) — Pressures of upcoming re-election campaigns make judges more punitive toward defendants in criminal cases, according to a growing body of empirical research.
- Building a Diverse Bench (2017) — This manual outlines best practices for promoting more diverse magistrate and bankruptcy court benches.
- Building a Diverse Bench: A Guide for Judicial Nominating Commissioners (2016) — This new resource provides nominating commissioners with concrete guidance on the steps they can take to promote a more diverse bench.
- 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 Reform: Toward Independent Consideration of Disqualification (2016) — This report examines the rules currently governing judicial disqualification in state court systems, and provides recommendations for reform.
- Promoting Fair and Impartial Courts Through Recusal Reform (2011) — To assist state courts in responding to the need for recusal reform, the Brennan Center for Justice has collected model rules that provide a blueprint for state implementation.
- 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.