AUSTIN, Texas—A public forum on judicial campaign finance reform, sponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, will be conducted Wednesday (Sept. 1) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
The panel discussion from 10 a.m. until 11: 30 a.m. is free and open to the public. It will be in the Sheffield Room at the law school, 727 E. Dean Keeton St. Following the discussion, questions will be taken from the audience.
Committee chair Alfred P. Carlton Jr. of Raleigh, N.C., will serve as moderator. He will be joined by committee members Cara Lee Neville, Hennepin district judge in Minneapolis, and Morris Harrell of Dallas, former American Bar Association president. Former FBI Director William S. Sessions of San Antonio, who also is a former federal judge and immediate past chair of the committee, will be a panel participant.
In addition, Thomas Phillips, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and Jo Ann Merica, immediate past president of Young Lawyers Association of the State Bar of Texas, will be panelists. Richard Pena, past president of the State Bar of Texas, will make introductory remarks.
“We hope to have a spirited dialogue about judicial selection and campaign finance issues affecting the state of Texas,” said Carlton. Among the topics of discussion will be policies urging reform of judicial campaign financing adopted by the ABA during its annual meeting in August.
At that meeting, the association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct was amended to regulate judicial appointments of lawyers who contribute to judges’ campaigns, to establish requirements for judicial disqualification based on contributions to judicial campaigns, and to limit individual judicial campaign donations. The amendment also calls for the filing of names and addresses of people contributing amounts above a threshold level to a judge’s campaign.
During the annual meeting, the ABA also reaffirmed its commitment to merit selection of judges, which it has officially supported since 1972. A similar forum will be conducted in Chicago on Sept. 8 at DePaul University School of Law.
The Standing Committee on Judicial Independence was formed in 1997 to study judicial issues at the state, local and territorial level and to raise public awareness of those issues. For additional information, contact Eileen Gallagher, project manager for the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, at 312/988-5105.