Virtuous Judges and Electoral Politics: A Contradiction?

6 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011

Date Written: January 1, 2004


Judge Thomas J. Spargo serves as a fascinating poster-child in the debate on what’s wrong (or right) with judicial elections. Judge Spargo, campaigning for re-election as Justice of the Berne Town Court in upstate New York, was accused of “failing to observe the high standards of conduct” expected as a judge because he handed out doughnuts to voters. Judge Spargo’s case and others illustrate that popular debates about the merits of judicial elections versus judicial selection commissions have probably been mis-focused on two “second-order questions rather than concentrating on “first-order” concerns in judicial selection. This article discusses these questions and concerns and takes a look at judicial elections versus the judicial selection commissions.

Keywords: judicial elections, judicial selection commissions, ethics, moral qualities, merit commissions

Suggested Citation

Failinger, Marie A., Virtuous Judges and Electoral Politics: A Contradiction? (January 1, 2004). Albany Law Review, Vol. 67, p.769, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Marie A. Failinger (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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