This Article examines criminal cases decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court over a fifteen-year period in an effort to discern whether judicial elections undercut judicial independence by affecting the ways justices vote. Wisconsin was chosen for this study because the state's mix of appointed and elected judges allows a researcher to control for different judicial selection systems. Specifically, this Article questions whether voting patterns may be affected by a justice's proximity to judicial elections, election margins, and whether a justice was appointed or elected in the initial term, since the governor may appoint a justice to fill a vacancy on the court.
In Part II, this Article provides a historical overview of how judicial selection methods have been chosen in the United States and Wisconsin. Part III examines the literature on responsiveness to the electorate, which forms the basis for the hypotheses regarding the voting behaviors of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices in Part IV. Part V explains the data and research methodology for this study, while Part VI analyzes judicial voting patterns of justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and asks whether voting patterns may be affected by proximity to elections, election margins, and appointment versus election in the initial term. Part VII concludes that being appointed (versus elected) in the initial term significantly correlates with a justice's voting for a defendant's claim in that initial term. In contrast, looking at the overall Wisconsin Supreme Court, proximity to election has no significant impact on judicial voting against a defendant's legal claim. However, individual justices do display changes in voting patterns as they near re-election. Part VIII suggests areas for further analysis and future research.
Jason J. Czarnezki, Voting and Electoral Politics in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 87 Marq. L. Rev. 323 (2003), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/899/.