(n):con`flict of in`ter`est (n):hy`poc`ri`sy

Justice of the Georgia Supreme Courty Carol Hunstein filed her last two campaign contribution disclosure reports on July 10, 2006, and October 6, 2006, respectively. She disclosed 109 total contributions in July and 716 total contributions in October. That’s 825 total contributions. Out of those, a total of 552 of the contributors list themselves as “attorneys.

23 comments

  1. Georgians should be outraged by this Republican logic. You guys have made a concerted effort to politicize these races and then you complain when lawyers (who are against a partisan judiciary) contribute to the problem you created.

    Now, here’s the thing. I looked at Glenn Richardson’s disclosure and Eric Johnson’s and there are tons of lobbyists and corporations who will benefit from decisions made by the general assembly. Would you say they are also bought and paid for?

    Unless you want to advocate for publicly financed judicial elections, or a better idea would be no elections and appointments instead like on the federal level, I can’t take any of these criticisms seriously.

  2. Seth Millican says:

    Chris,

    Notice you’re the one who brought up party affiliation in regards to this race. I’m not trying to make this a Republican v. Democrat issue. I just have a huge problem with conflict of interest issues when someone makes a sizable donation to a campaign, and then just two and a half months later finds himself arguing a case before the very recipient of the money.

  3. ugavi says:

    This maybe the only time I agree with chrisishardcore.

    I think these judges should be appointed in a similar manner to the Federal levels. The deck is stacked for any incumbent judge, first most people don;t even know who they are when they go to vote, and second the legal community is going to come out in strong support of a sitting judge.

  4. Seth Millican says:

    At issue is whether or not Hunstein should recuse herself or return the $10,000, not the manner in which Georgia’s judges make it to the bench.

    However, should that have been the point of this post, I think I’d agree that the system by which our judges are put on the bench could stand some vetting. In that, Chris, you have a point.

  5. bird says:

    This post is a hit job.

    Seth, you are using the term “trial lawyer” improperly. A trial lawyer has come to mean a plaintiff’s attorney. Thus, any donation from an attorney at a big or mid-sized Atlanta firm would almost always be by attorneys specializing in defending corporations, not suing them. If you mean a trial lawyer as someone who goes to court, which is generally not what this term means, then you are still wrong, because many of Justice Hunstein’s donors are transactional attorneys–the ones who write contracts, close deals, prepare employer policies, etc. They never go in front of a judge.

    I am an attorney, and I have talked to several prominent attorneys around Atlanta who believe that, if anything, Justice Hunstein is more pro-corporation that pro-plaintiff. This is just not good enough for some people though, who want to install a sure vote for big companies on the Ga. Supreme Court. And yes, politicizing these races irks some of us.

    I have worked on two campaigns for the Ga. Supreme Court (not this one), and there are some rules in place to reduce any potential conflict of interest. For example, we could have a justice go to a law firm or event, shake hands, etc., but the justice could not be in the room at the time any donations were made. Nor could the justice personally handle any donations.

    A justice receiving a contribution will generally write a thank you note, though the justice is only suppose to know that someone helped, not how much. I know this information is available online, and any justice can go look, but they are not suppose to. Do you have any evidence Justice Hunstein has looked at who gave what?

    This is the system as it is, and many attorneys want to help a fair member of the Georgia Supreme Court when they can. We are the individuals with the most at stake in this election. Are you suggesting attorneys not contribute? Or are you just going to criticize attorneys and a justice for doing their level best to be fair in a system that is certainly not perfect? If your goal is a better judiciary, then I urge you to work on the judicial election system. But I sense the purpose of your post was motivated by your desire to see one candidate win and not a better judiciary.

  6. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Seth,

    I don’t really have a side in this judicial race, but your post is ridiculous.

    Under your logic, no judge should ever accept donations from an attorney — since the attorney could likely have a case before that judge at some point in time. Who else do you expect to donate in judicial races? The average voter could probably care less who’s on our Supreme Court …certainly they don’t care enough to send money.

    I suppose your next logic is that Ag. Comm. candidates shouldn’t accept donations from any farmers, afterall, the Ag. Comm. could get a law passed that benefited the farmer at some point?

    Chris is right…how do compare that to the money which legislators receive from lobbyist who in turn get legislation that is beneficial to them.

    I think Mike Wiggins is a great candidate…he doesn’t need biased posts like yours to help his cause.

  7. LymanHall says:

    Seth-
    While casting stones, let’s not forget how much insurance money Republican John Oxendine has taken over the last several years. The challenger, Guy Drexinger, has promsied not to take any.

    With regards to Justice Hunstein, you fail to notice how lawyers of all stripes have contributed to her campaign. Gov. Barnes and Atty. Gen Mike Bowers co-hosted a fundraiser. The Chamber of Commerce is trying to buy a justice with non-lawyer money. Give me a break.

  8. Briardawg says:

    This is sound reasoning that Georgia judges should be appointed rather than elected. As an attorney myself, I have never understood the logic behind judicial elections.

  9. “Georgians should be outraged by this Republican logic. You guys have made a concerted effort to politicize these races and then you complain when lawyers (who are against a partisan judiciary) contribute to the problem you created.”

    Well said, Chris. Mr. Wiggins is the one who introduced partisanship into this race, not to mention the big bucks. Perhaps that’s the biggest reason why so many lawyers of all different stripes are rushing to support Justice Hunstein.

    “This is sound reasoning that Georgia judges should be appointed rather than elected. As an attorney myself, I have never understood the logic behind judicial elections. ”

    I agree with Chris and Briardawg on this point. Judges should be appointed, rather than elected.

  10. atlantaman says:

    To some extent I agree with Chris, especially when it comes to making appointments of judges.

    The problem I have with the attorneys is they’ve basically had a monopoly on picking and financing judicial races and now they howl partisanship when people who might be opposed to their interests want to partake in the process. Couldn’t the Chamber of Commerce just as easily claim the attorneys are making the race partisan by overwhelmingly contributing to Hunstein vs. Wiggins?

  11. MelGX says:

    This post is slander.

    slan·der (slndr) n.
    1. Law. Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
    2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

  12. Decaturguy says:

    If elected, will Mike Wiggins recuse himself from any case that any of his campaign contributors have an interest? If not, then what is the point of your post?

  13. debbie0040 says:

    State Court Judges should run in primaries as other statewide elected officials.

    The bottom line is judicial philosophy. Democratic Judges tend to like to legislate from the bench. Republican voters don’t.

    Hunstein’s views on Miranda disturb me and most law enforcement officials.

    Sometimes voters have not heard of either candidate and will vote Republican because they feel they are more in line with their political ideology.

    The bottom line is Hunstein is a DEMOCRAT. Mike Wiggins is a REPUBLICAN. That should be shouted from the rooftops.

    Since Georgia has become a GOP State, I can see why Hunstein is trying to avoid party labels.

    Voters need to be informed of their party leanings.

    The Cobb GOP passed a resolution at their last county committee meetting that read : “Whereas we Republicans are sick and tired of Democrat activist judges over turning the will of the people, we urge voters to support the Conservative, Republican Candidate, Mike Wiggins for the Georgia Supreme Court.”

    Other GOP county parties should follow .

  14. debbie0040 says:

    Republican voters don’t, should read Republican Judges don’t.

    Mike Wiggins is the GOP candidate and I have no problem with it being made political. Other states have judges that run in partisian primaries.

  15. After this election is over, there will be some good stories to tell about why the chamber got involved in this race, how they picked Hunstein to run against, who financed Wiggans, etc.

    I hope someone tells it well and we can maybe get a grassroots movement for appointed judges (at least on a statewide level) who are ratified by the state Senate, just like on the national level.

    If you guys aren’t careful, the Georgia Surpreme Court will one day consist of Gary Martin Hayes, Johnny Cochran’s partners, Ken Nugent and Perry Ellis. It will just be the lawyers that advertise on TV who decide to run for the Court. Only they will have the residual name ID necessary to win one of these races. And then the Chamber really won’t be happy.

  16. ColinATL says:

    I’m just the opposite, I think that judges should be appointed and approved, as Federal judges are. At least it would put a stop to the fundraising conflicts. Politics is no place for jurisprudence.

    Regarding Hunstein getting 2/3 of her donations from attorneys, who else pays attention to what judges say than attorneys, right? This is a non-issue if ever there was one.

  17. BD Smith says:

    Hunstein’s going to win, just like Justice Sears did. The overwhelming feeling throughout Georgia and especially amongst White Republican men is that Supreme Court judges should NOT have to run for office. This was the voter bloc that helped Justice Sears kick some major booty over the Christian Coalition and her unqualified opponent.

  18. dogface says:

    The point here is this: Hunstein and the TV-lawyers’ association have whined and complained that Republicans and business are trying to buy this election …

    … and that lawyers like Roy Barnes and Jay Cook are the ones trying to protect an “independent judiciary.”

    Horsefeathers!

    Plaintiffs’ lawyers are afraid their grip on *their* judiciary is at stake when others participate in the election.
    The fact is GTLA has been “buying” judicial elections for years.

    Does anyone believe a contribution to a judge DAYS before that lawyer pleads his or her case before that same judge is anything other than “influence buying.”

    Insurance companies are prohibited by state law from giving to candidates for Insurance Commissioner for the same reason lawyers should be prohibiting from giving to judges they argue their cases before.

    If not immoral and unethical, it undermines confidence in the system and gives the appearance of impropriety.

  19. dogface says:

    LAW ENFORCEMENT BACKS WIGGINS

    BIPARTISAN GROUP OF 31 SHERIFFS ENDORSES

    Atlanta, GA – The Mike Wiggins for Georgia Supreme Court campaign announced today the 31 sheriffs who will chair the Law Enforcement for Wiggins effort.

    The group of 31 sheriffs are solidly bipartisan in terms of political affiliation, comprising 15 Democrats, 15 Republicans, and an Independent. They represent counties stretching from one end of Georgia to the other.

    “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect Georgia families. It is absolutely essential that our justice system stand behind them by delivering swift and sure punishment to those who would threaten the lives, health, and property of Georgia citizens,

  20. Looks like the same group of losers that backed Grant Brantley. I wonder if the dumbass DA’s who believed the GOP when they said Grant was a shoo-in are stupid enough to once again go up against a sitting justice?

    Maybe as a professional courtesy some of you GOP activist/consultant guys could tell the Douglas and Rockdale sheriffs that they are in counties that are seeing massive population trends in favor of Democrats and that going out of their way to endorse the Wiggans and McGuire’s of the world may not be a good long term career move come their next election.

  21. gatormathis says:

    Maybe as a professional courtesy some of you GOP activist/consultant guys could tell the Douglas and Rockdale sheriffs that they are in counties that are seeing massive population trends in favor of Democrats and that going out of their way to endorse the Wiggans and McGuire’s of the world may not be a good long term career move come their next election

    Funny how quickly democrats love to drop these “supposed” threats from the days when they had absolute power and could weild it as they saw fit. That’s why the tables have turned so abruptly, people are tired of the old democrat plantation system of doing things.

    Tell you what Chris, we’ll do you the courtesy of saying, don’t speed or break other laws in those above-mentioned counties until that tide you referenced has fully turned. Those ole boys might be watching for you………lol

  22. dogface says:

    The hit-back, I guess.

    Recuse or return the money

    $250,000 FROM PLAINTIFFS’ LAWYERS:

    WHICH SPECIAL INTEREST WANTS TO INFLUENCE CAROL HUNSTEIN?

    ATLANTA: In the haste to raise as much money as possible to support her re-election campaign, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Huntstein has collected more than a quarter million dollars from easily identified plaintiffs’ lawyers, according to Eric Dial, Safety & Prosperity Coalition (SPC) chairman.

    “This relatively small but powerful group of plaintiffs’ lawyers, representing a clearly pro-trial bar political position, has rallied in an unprecedented way to support their candidate of choice – Carol Huntstein,” said Dial. “Georgians deserve to know who the real ‘special interest’ is behind the massive infusion of political money into Huntstein’s campaign.”

    Following last week’s “preliminary” disclosure that Huntstein has received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from lawyers who have appeared before her in the past six weeks alone, the SPC today re-issued its call to Huntstein’s campaign to “recuse or return the money” in any case in which a lawyer who argues before her this year also gives political money to her campaign. “It goes to the fundamental issue of public trust in the integrity of the judicial system,” said Dial, who acknowledged that while such contributions – at least those within the legal limits – are legal, they “do not pass the smell test for most Georgians.”

Comments are closed.