Prof. James Sample Says Changes to New York State’s Recusal Rules Are a ‘Positive Step’

James Sample, Associate Professor of Law

Recusal Is Step in Right Direction, Bar Leaders Say
By Joel Stashenko and Noeleen G. Walder
New York Law Journal
February 15, 2011


James J. Sample, a professor at Hofstra University School of Law and a judicial election expert, said he expected the rule to have its largest impact on hotly contested Surrogate’s Court races and, to a lesser degree, on the relative handful of Supreme Court races that are close each year.

Mr. Sample, who co-authored a study last year through the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law on the effects of money in judicial elections nationwide, said New York’s often choreographed judicial nominating system for Supreme Court seats has served to blunt the effects of contributions by inhibiting competition.

“The way I would look at it is, the judicial conventions have such a stranglehold on the democratic process that monetary influence is not nearly the threat that political influence is in New York courts,” Mr. Sample said yesterday. “I think this is a positive step. I think real court reform in New York would have to address the convention process at the trial court level. On the other hand, albeit it’s a solution to a problem that other states have to a greater degree than New York, it is still a positive step.”

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