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Caperton’s New Right to Independence in Judges

48 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2010 Last revised: 28 Aug 2010

Gerard J. Clark

Suffolk University Law School

Date Written: March 10, 2010


In the Caperton case (2009) the USSC applied the Due Process Clause to reverse the refusal of a West Virginia Supreme Court judge to recuse himself is spite of having received $3,000,000 in campaign contributions from a defendant. The judge then cast the deciding vote to reverse a jury award of $50,000,000 in damages for driving the plaintiff out of business. The article reviews the common law origins of conflict of interest law, and summarizes procedural due process. It describes procedures for examining judicial ethics including statutory sanctions, judicial conduct commissions and recusal. It reviews in detail the opinions of the WVSCA and critiques them. It gives an overview of judicial elections as well as the First Amendment principles involved in campaign regulation and financing. It endorses the ABA proposals passed in the August, 2009 in response to the case.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Gerard J., Caperton’s New Right to Independence in Judges (March 10, 2010). Drake Law Review, Vol. 58, p. 661, 2010; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-14. Available at SSRN:

Gerard J. Clark (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

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Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
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