Louisiana Record

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pelican Institute exec highlights study showing party affiliation may influence judges

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By Zeta Cross | Oct 11, 2019


Renee Amar, Pelican Institute | Pelican Institute website

A new study produced by a Texas law firm, the “Reasons for Reversal,” found that a recent wave of election of Democrat judges to appellate courts in the Lone Star's major urban areas has had a "huge" impact on civil rulings - to the benefit of plaintiffs and their lawyers. 

The study reviewed all noncriminal decisions issued by all 14 Texas courts of appeals from September 2018 to August 2019.  

And it got the attention of Renee Amar, vice president of government affairs for the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, who said that court observers in Louisiana are interested in results of the Texas study.

“There have been countless instances of elected judges exhibiting a stunning lack of impartiality while presiding over civil cases in Louisiana,” Amar told the Louisiana Record. “This adds to the growing perception that Louisiana’s civil justice system is fundamentally broken."

The “Reasons for Reversal” study reviewed all noncriminal decisions issued by all 14 Texas courts of appeals from September 2018 to August 2019.  

One of the authors of the study, Haynes and Boone partner Kent Rutter, said they found a dramatic difference in rulings on consumer cases when new Democratic judges took the bench. 

Cases that reach the appeals courts often get to the higher court when plaintiffs win a judgment. Appellate rulings that uphold jury verdicts often benefit those plaintiffs.

“The courts of appeal are showing much greater deference to jury verdicts, and plaintiffs naturally benefit from that trend,” Rutter said. 

Tackling partisanship in the Louisiana judiciary is important to the Pelican Institute, Amar said.

“Louisiana is in desperate need of wholesale reforms to judicial transparency. Injecting greater transparency into the system will ensure that members of the judiciary are more accountable and taxpayers are fully informed when they reach the ballot box," Amar said.

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