Trial Lawyer Influence in State Court Races

“Trial lawyers have become one of the most formidable forces in American politics.”

— The Wall Street Journal (4/25/00)

The New York Times published an article on June 5th entitled, “Fierce Campaigns Signal a New Era for State Courts” which highlighted the increasing involvement of special interest groups in state court races. In particular, the article discusses the contentious state court races of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, citing that some candidates have allegedly begun to cater to the trial lawyers. Reportedly, the candidates of the Ohio Supreme Court have positioned themselves to spend between $5 and $12 million on their campaigns.

Of the ten most powerful interest groups in America identified by Fortune magazine in their December 6, 1999 article entitled, “The Power 25,” trial lawyers have the most influence given the size of their membership. The most powerful include: the AARP representing 33 million retirees, the NEA union representing a membership of 2.3 million teachers, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America with just 60,000 attorneys as members.

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