Chris W. Bonneau’s defense of judicial elections [“A bum rap on elected judges,” Washington Forum, May 27] skipped over important data suggesting that justice could be for sale. State supreme court candidates raised more than $206 million in the past decade, shattering records in 20 states. Much of this money came from lawyers and interest groups who appear before these candidates in court. Three in four Americans, most business leaders and nearly half of judges themselves believe that campaign cash is affecting courtroom decisions.
Twenty-four states have used merit selection to pick judges for decades, so that judges can be screened for experience, intellect and judicial temperament, and not face a tidal wave of special-interest money seeking to tilt the scales of justice. Research shows that elected judges are disciplined at higher rates, and for more serious infractions, than are their appointed counterparts.