The State Courts in 2006: Surviving Anti-Court Initiatives and Demonstrating High Performance

Ballot initiatives in four states sought fundamental, and in one state revolutionary, change to their judicial branch of government. All four were defeated at the polls but similar efforts are expected in the same and other states for 2008. A number of states again featured costly and ugly judicial elections. Also, it was clear that judicial candidates overwhelmingly chose to campaign within traditional expectations of what is appropriate in a fair and impartial court system. The state judicial branches in 2006 made significant strides in refining and creating methods for measuring their performance and demonstrating their accountability to the other branches of government and to the public. “High-performing courts” is one label for these efforts.

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About the Author
David Rottman is principal court research consultant at the National Center for State Courts, where he has worked since 1987. His research interests include judicial selection, judicial campaign oversight committees, public opinion on the courts, the evolution of court structure, and the pros and cons of problem-solving courts. He is the author of books on community courts, social inequality and modern Ireland. Rottman has a Ph.D. in sociology from the  University of Illinois at Urbana, and previously worked at the Economic and Social Institute in Dublin, Ireland.