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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  May 15, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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sewn it may be some seasons before the full results of this new law are known, emma pay ward, al jazerra, in paris. for another look at all of the latest news, you can always go to our website. i'll "ali velshi on target" money or justice, the millions spent, and the judges taking cash legally to get elected to the bench plus, cops for hire - badge, gun and all. but at what cost from traffic court to the supreme court you might think that the best way to address a judge is to call him your
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honour, a sign of respect given to men and women whose integrity is supposed to make them impartial, unbiased when weighing matters of criminal and civil law. the honour of some is in jeopardy by the potentially corrupting influence of politics and money. in some states judges have to pay for election campaigns to win seats on the bunch. meaning they have to take financial contributions from donors. donors who one day may appear in the winning judge's court. tonight, on target is putting judicial elections on trial. here is how judges win seats. on state supreme courts. the 28 states in red, take a close look at these, these appoint judges to initial terms. after that they are set for life or face uncontested elections where voters can keep or reject them. they are not the states where
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i'm worried about money polluting judicial selections. i'm concerned about orange states, where judges are listed on ballots without party affiliation. then there are the nine states in gray. they have partisan elections where judges run under primary or general elections. this is where the debate for honey and integrity matters. here is why? because of these nine states spending on state supreme court elections has skyrocketed. going from $83 million in the period from 1990 to 1999, $207 million in the period 2000 to 2009. alabama is one state moving the needle. it is where one of the biggest nastiest judicial elections took place, back in 2006. sue bell cob won that seat that
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year. she became the chief justice, since retiring in 2011 she is telling a story not everyone wants to hear, that you can't have a judge take money from a don'ter and remain -- donor, and remain impartial when this person appears in court. chief justice cobb was a supreme retiring. >> my ex-wife is this. >> her suite talking granted us access inside the courtroom, a place where news cameras are not often welcome. >> when i was sworn in as chief justice of the supreme court. >> in 2006 she one what was at the time the most hotly contested and expensive judicial election in u.s. history.
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>> what we were able to raise is 2.6 million, which is a huge amount. >> her opponent spent more than $5 million in the race. recently cobb has become a whistleblower, speaking out against vast amounts of money it takes for a judge to be elected to supreme courts. >> do you want your courts filled with people who spent a significant amount of time raising money to cope the job, and expect them to make decisions not impacts by it. >> in the last decade, 537 candidates raised more than 206 million for elections. the majority of that money came from a handful of states in which supreme court judges run as democrats or republicans. >> i don't think it's a coincidence. when you have candidates running partisan races, i think that campaign donors feel they have a clear idea of how the judge
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might rule. >> all of these states had particular episodic instances in which one or more major contributors to a judicial campaign really was able to swing an election or come close to it. >> chief justice cobb ran as the only democrat on the ticket, and says party affiliation should have no role in her performance as a judge. >> i enforce the law day in day out as to the many judges. on laws i don't agree in, i don't personally agree. it doesn't matter. it matters not a whit. it matters nothing at all. some experts say it's not that cut or dry. especially for voters. >> most voters know little about candidates that are or that d next to a candidates name is a information. >> i appreciate it.
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>> thank you. >> junk david whect is running as a democrat in the primaries. it's been called an historic election. six democrats and six republicans running for an unprecedented three seats on the peninsula court. he's campaigning hard, shaking hands, attending dinners and holding press conferences. even if it's a press conference for one camera. >> all right. good afternoon everyone, thank you very much for joining us here today. it's not easy getting media attention for a judicial election. voters don't seem to care. tv ads are crucial. >> i'll restore peninsula trust in the supreme court tv ads take money. >> it takes a lot of money. 12 candidates raised more than $5 million for the
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may 19th primary. wecht is at the top of the heat with $500,000, he'll need more election. >> each candidate in the general election to be viable will be required to raise and spend over $1 million, perhaps over $2 million. >> so far the judge has been endorsed by state senators and representatives, and even the mayor of pittsburgh, and has major contributions from unions, and a reported $200,000 from attorneys and law terms. >> there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a system that requires judges to raise tonnes of money, and seek political endorsements from attorneys and special interest groups and others who might have a case before them once elected.
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>> the judge says he didn't pick the system, he just has to find a way to exist ethically within the system. >> there's no perfect system. and i'm not so enamored of any system of selecting judges that i would attempt to convince you or your viewers of the react attitude of any one system. the judge says he has nothing to hide, and thinks talking openly about judicial ethics is crucial, especially since two of the three open seats on the supreme court are up for grabs because judges resigned before major scandals. efforts to sway voters mind can terms. >> what did david call one of the respected judges? especially as pack money enters the elections. spending millions without the consent of the candidates on
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opponents. >> the first system we had when we became a nation was that the king appointed the judges, the governors then appointed the judges, and during president jackson's era, the reform was to go to the citizens. now, because of the obscene amounts of money that are the judicial elections, the money is the king. >> is justice for sale in america, i'll talk to a man that says there's no proof that the money you heard about persuades judges. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the sound bites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is. >> ray suarez hosts "inside story". only on al jazeera america.
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on target we are putting judicial elections on trial.
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critics worry that state judges that take campaign contributions from donors can't be impartial if they end up in court. an associate professor of political science at the pittsburgh, and the author of the book "in defense of judicial elections" argues that judicial elections are the best, most democratic it. he says there's no evidence that judges. good to have you on the show. thank you for being with us. the american constitution society for law and policy put out a study comparing supreme court decisions and found: chris, you insist no proof that justice is for sale. to that
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conclusion? >> thank you for having me on. it's important in the study, and all the other studies to not make the assumption of cause ration from core laughings. -- correlation. giving contributions to candidates they support is not changing the judge's behaviour once it's on the bench. there's no evidence... >> sorry, you are a professor, if you don't look at correlation versus causation, how would you prove any of this, unless you had a smoking gun where someone says because you donated, i'll rule in your favour, aren't studies acceptable. >> we want a causation. judges would prefer to vote for one litigant. they are voting in a way opposite.
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let's shay we have a judge voting on medical malpractice case, and in one case he or she votes in the opposite way, it could be the facts of those cases, but could be because of the correction. when we talk about justice for sale, that's what we are talking about, not causation. >> you're right. the reporting on the show indicates that it doesn't tend to be individuals, joe's hardware stores, it's tending to be industry, and groups or industry collectively. we know, friendships, the koch brothers are probably some of the biggest distributors to judicial elections. it's the concept that we are pro-business. >> if voters choose to do that, they can. the nice thing is voters have a choice, and it's not the choice that the candidate who raises the most money wins. if you think about the notion of campaign contributions, there's
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nothing to stop liberal groups doing the same thing. >> that's a good point. in some cases they are. we have seen instances where liberal groups or unions - let me ask you this, you probably know of this case. in 2004 stick farm donated to a judge. the judge did not recuse himself from a case in which a state farm was present and voted to reverse a billion dollar judgment against state farms. >> it wasn't only that judge, there were three other judges on the court. this was a 4-3 decision. it looks like an importance of impropriety. do we think the judge voted that way because of campaign contributions or was he pro-business, was a conservative judge, had a conservative ideology and would have voted that way had he been given $0. >> i don't know that it was because of a state form
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donation, but a judge who may have been a conservative, business. >> it was a rural election. illinois has district elections. this was a southern district of conservative. if you look at how the distribute votes, it's not surprising that the republican candidate won the election, you see it a lot. the elections are real. because they are real, they are subject to the same kinds of issues as congressional elections. >> we suicideused to see them in presidential elections, and now we are seeing them working to judicial elections. the prop in many cases is judges almost never recuse themselves from a case in which they may have an interest because of donations, and lawyers typically
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do not make notions for a judge to recuse. the former alabama supreme court judge, sue bell cobb, listen to how she described it. >> i try to remember when i was asked to be reduced. in 30 years, i could be wrong here. i don't even remember a recusal motion. what did it mean? did it mean they trusted me to make the decision? i trust and pray that's what they meant. all too often meant that they didn't want to offend the judge judge cobb asks an interesting question. nobody ever asked her to recruits herself in instances like this. that's is a bit of an ethical problem. judges don't take themselves out of these things, because they say there's no causal
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relationship. lawyers don't ask because of making. >> the supreme court in the tower case held in the west virginia situation there was a significant likelihood that the appearance of impropriety occurred because of the money donated, it wasn't raised by the judge, but a group raised. but the supreme court set a tender for judges to recruits themselves. with recruitsal, if we look at the supreme court, there are allegations of conflict of interest from those judges. it's not just an issue of campaign financing and contributions, but the broader issue in the judiciary. >> the idea of electing judges was formed from the idea of avoiding judges, people thought it would be fairer. >> you made mention of the appearance of impropriety, voters in
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germneral in america believe judges can be brought. look at this gallop poll: now, we know they don't usually do that. so the public's faith in the public system is being affected by this. >> well, there are other polls showing the public overwhelmingly approves. when you ask people what the preferred method of judicial selection is, over three-quarters report the electing judges as a preferred method. the other thing about the perception of propriety is that perception is an issue. campaign disclosure may he with that. when you look at the judiciary of the court, campaign finance exact cost, but the process of having people involved confors legitimacy in the
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process, and political scientists looked at this, and found that they are looking at the same individuals, that it was higher post election than preelection. it's interesting and complicated. glad you were here to talk to us chris boepo, associate professor of the the university of pittsburgh. cops for fire - complete with guns and everything. how working private business is
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we have stalked about justice for sale, let's switch to cops for hire, anywhere in the country, an off duty cop can be hired at an hourly rate - real cops, full uniform, gun, car, anything. 98% of local police departments serving communities of 10,000 people or more were contracting out their police personnel for off-duty work. the police departments insist the moonlighting is a way to get
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more cops on the street without dipping into the budgets or taxpayer funds. critics say the practice is ripe for abuse. paul beban has our report. >> reporter: it is a typical day in downtown salt lake city. he is patrolling a dangerous part of the city. >> hey, you guys rantwant to fight, do it some place else. >> reporter: a new neighbourhood, businesses, construction moving into an area with a homeless problem. here? >> a lot of drugs, assault. >> reporter: the answer for many businesses is hire off-duty police officers for security work, complete with squad car, gun and uniform. >> most release there's only so much police officers in the city, if they want constant presence, they'll have to take themselves.
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>> they'll have to pay for it. >> whether it's an off duty officer or security. police. >> for $30 this business hires a police officer to stand quart, complete with squad car. >> you decided to have an off-duty police officer versus a security officer, why? >> they need to act. number one, if they see something happen they need to respond private security and police work together in this area. but some agencies, including bedrock security's paul nelson takes issue with the fact that they have to compete for entity. >> they are great partners. they are competitors. they shouldn't be. >> does the salt lake city have
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an unfair advantage working against you? >> i think so. they'll know a lot of security customers out there. they are there on all crime scenes, grabbing the business. that's not their business, they are in law . >> salt lake city police chief says it's against policy for work. >> reporter: talk about how you see the relationship. >> we are not in the business of doing private security. we are in the business of law enforcement. it is a fine line. i will give you that. it's one we are concerned about. the difference is that you are hiring a police officer to take actions based on the colour of authority, based on the law. not "do you have tickets? an i search your bag", that is not law enforcement. >> reporter: the salt lake
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p.d. has a business. the city cleared $85,000 on this fee. which means 56,000 hours were worked off-duty by police at $30 an hour. that means they made almost $1.7 million working off-duty. many departments around the country have a limit of off-duty hours an officer can work. salt lake city does not. >> there's a temptation for officers to work as much part-time as they can handle. how do you balance that with responsibility. >> we track hours. i can pum an officer and say this is how many hours they've been working, if it's an issue. that's why we have the oversight we do. >> when we ask for the number, the department couldn't tell us. why? officers are paid directly by the employer. if there was a major issue, they
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say they could do an audit. that said, there's no consistent oversight. >> it can raise concerns. there's documented cases in pittsburgh, new orleans, where the ability of police officers to receive compensation directly from private employer as opposed to from the police department can create the opportunity for corruption law enforcement here and salt lake city say there's advantages to hiring a cop in uniform. a cop in uniform can make arrests and act like a cop, providing added deterrent. there's a question. that's liability. >> if an officer engages in an unlawful use of force, it violates constitutional rites. they can sue the officer, but under a couple of doctrines, they can sue the police department and a city who employed the officer.
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tax powers are on the hook for costs associated with that. >> police department policy vary on how they handle responsibility while moonlighting. newark requires a vepdor to have a million in insurance. all the liability falls on the city, some departments call it overtime. in alabama, a state-wide code mandating that each venue has $100,000 in liability before hiring an off duty cop. >> some ask signed. >> there is liability that comes with employment. >> the employer takes on workers cop and other related issues. >> yes, when they have to take police action. that's my responsibility, whether on-duty, off duty. >> there's a line they cross
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from being a private employee officer. >> there can be, yes. i mean, again, it's one of those that is situational and depends situation. >> reporter: there are hundreds of lawsuits attempting to determine when the line is crossed. that's one reason that hooeber city, a suburb of salt lake city wrote a radical policy. >> it's extensive. they cannot wear a uniform, anything with a city logo or badge. they cannot use equipment or any of the vehicles. >> congratulations. >> well done. >> burbank sees nothing wrong with his policies on moonlighting which are on par with the rest of the country. >> is there anything you'd like to see fixed about the system? >> to be honest with you, i would do away with part-time working hire more police officers, pay them better money
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so they don't have to pay them part time and that is our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining next. [ ♪♪ ] you've been convicted of a crime. and you've done your time. when you fill out job applications, there it is. the box that asks - have you crime. tell the truth, and the odds are pretty good, you won't get the job. ex-inmates say it would help them restart their lives and stay out of gaol if companies would just bend the box. it's tonight's "inside story".


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