The Chief Justice of New York’s highest court, Jonathan Lippman, is receiving accolades from his announcement this week that the Administrative Board of Courts has proposed a new rule to address when judges must recuse themselves when those appearing before them have contributed money to their campaigns. The proposed rule was announced as part of Chief Judge Lippman’s annual state of the judiciary address, and it is designed to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Caperton v. Massey Coal decision and the public perception of impropriety that is created by judicial contributions made by parties and their attorneys to judicial campaigns.
The proposed rule requires recusal when a party or an attorney has contributed $2500 or more individually (or $3500 or more collectively by multiple plaintiffs or defendants, or by an attorney and his or her law firm) within two years of the judge being assigned to the case. The text of the proposed rule may be found here. The rule is open for public comment until April 29, 2011.
The consensus on the legal blogs I’ve read seems to be that this is (and should have been) a "no-brainer". I haven’t seen which direction Texas is headed on this issue, but reading about this New York rule reminds me of the 60 Minutes episode that aired in the 1987-ish time-frame asking the question of whether justice is for sale.