Category Archives: Judicial Office

judicial campaigns awash in money

Judicial Campaign Spending

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, television ad spending for state Supreme Court candidate races surpassed $29.7 million in 2012. That was a record.

“Political parties and outside groups have dominated TV spending this election season, and are responsible for nearly 70% of the approximately $8.9 million that has been spent on TV ads since the start of September, according to data provided by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG.”

More recently. a new Brennan Center report looked at state supreme court elections for the 2017–18 cycle. As it turns out, many state court races across the country today are highly politicized and awash with money. A lot of of that money may come people with cases in before the court or hidden interest groups that that have an interest in the court’s outcome.

A lot of special interest money comes from all over the country to various candidates. Some of this is dark money, which comes from groups with undisclosed backers.

Research suggests that this money his has had an effect on how judges rule. Election year financial pressures sometimes result in better outcomes for big donors and political party supporters.

Spending on state high court elections has skyrocketed in recent years. As judicial elections come to resemble partisan elections, this can lower the public’s confidence in the judiciary. If judges are little more than robed politicians, why would they have trust in a judges supposed impartiality?

It’s a serious problem that has only gotten worse in recent years.

How has the growing expense of local judicial elections changed the way you operate your campaign or fund raise?

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Judicial Canva Templates

Attractive graphic design and judicial campaigns go hand-in-hand. Good designs are needed for everything from websites to social media posts to print materials.

If you don’t have a designer handy (or can afford one) for your graphic and print needs, then you may a problem.

One way to get a head start on your campaign’s graphic needs is with designed-for-you Canva templates.

Canva templates are easy to edit use – even if you don’t have any graphic design experience.

What is Canva?

Canva is an easy to use online graphic design tool. It offers offers drag-and-drop functionality, along with a huge library of stock images, graphics and fonts. Even if you are novice and never used a graphic design program, you still create great-looking graphics for web and print. You can easily change colors, fonts, and add your own images.

Canva offers a variety of content types. From pre-sized social media images to marketing materials such as brochures, postcards, invitations and ads, you’ll find almost everything you need.

Canva is free and provides plenty of great design features. Canva Pro [aff] unlocks a number of additional time-saving features. Canva Print makes it easy for you to have your designs professionally printed and delivered to you.

How to get your free political Canva templates

Create an account with Canva. The free version is enough for most solo users. However, there are many feature advantages with the Pro account

Log into your Online Candidate website administration and check the Marketing tab in the top menu. The free Social Media Templates are also available through OnlineCandidateResources.com. The login information is located in your website administration dashboard. (Not an Online Candidate client? Check out our political website packages.)

Instructions: Click on the links to open the templates. You should be brought to a page for each template that looks something like this:

The page displays a template preview along with a button that says “Use Template“. Simply click that button to start editing the template.

From there, you can edit any or all elements, add your logo and make it your own. You can download your image as a jpg, png or PDF or share your image directly to your social media accounts.

We also carry  Premium Judicial Templates for brochures, flyers, postcards and more.

Enjoy!

Not an Online Candidate client yet? Check out our campaign website packages and features.

Note: These templates are not affiliated with Canva in any official way.

qualities of a good judge

What Qualities Make For A Good Judge?

Before Election Day, voters know something about their judicial candidates. Voter contact is less, so running a campaign for judge has its own particular campaign challenges.

Judicial candidates running for city, county, district or even state judges tend to run campaigns with a lower level of advertising and promotion.

Because the level of voter contact may be less than other elected offices, running a campaign for judge has particular challenges. It’s important to put yourself in the best light possible. Here are some traits you should consider promoting to voters when running as a judicial candidate, either through your print pieces or campaign website.

Positive personal traits for judicial candidates

Your Character and Integrity. Integrity is the keystone of our judicial system.Emphasize your personal temperament, your historical integrity, and – if necessary – lack of partisan influence. There should be no doubt about your personal or professional ethics – or your judicial independence.

Legal Accomplishments. Your educational and professional experience should provide a good basis for voters to evaluate you. This may include trial and/or courtroom experience. Even lawyers in private practice may have experience that can make them effective judges. It should show that you can handle the position, can deal with legal issues, and successfully dispense justice effectively.

Community Involvement. How have you participated in community activities or pro bono work as an attorney? What organization are you affiliated with? What positions do you currently hold or have held in the past?

Your Judicial Temperament. How will you conduct yourself on the bench? How will you interact with citizens, officers and court personnel? What will guide your decisions? While you may not be able express personal opinions publicly, voters who are paying attention will probably be able to figure out your judicial temperament.

The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a rule that speaks to basic qualities. Rule 63(A)(3) provides that: “A judge should be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals with in an official capacity.”

Knowledge of the law. The role of the judicial body is to decide legally how a case should be handled. Every one of the newly appointed members of the court must have a thorough knowledge of the law.

Some judges tend to cram too much ‘legalese’ into their campaign materials. While that may help if you are running for a position in a bar association, many voters will either ignore or disregard large amounts of information. The average voter only reads at the eighth grade level. Your promotional material should be written to that level.

Succinctly summarizing your skills, history and approach will be much more effective than writing a 50-page brief about yourself. Voters are not lawyers – don’t treat them like one!

Brevity is the soul of wit – Shakespeare

To sum it up, the qualities of a good judge best include patience, humility, integrity, courage, clear eyes, a steady hand, alertness and the ability to think creatively. One must also be able to assess the situations in which he or she will likely rule and be able to logically analyze legal issues. Additionally, a judge should have a sense of humor and be able to determine the truth even when it is in the form of uncertainty.

Most importantly, a judge must be fair to all parties involved in cases before the  bench.

These tips will help voters select the best candidate on the ballot who will best serve our system of jurisprudence.

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Related: Campaigning for a judge’s seat? A sexier title could get you elected — or sued

How State Judges are Selected

The issue of how state judges are selected in the U.S. has been an area of controversy for more than 150 years. There are a number of variations but generally speaking, state judicial selection takes place by one of two methods – by appointment or by election.

Initially judges were appointed by the state governors or legislation. Mississippi in 1832 was the first state to write a provision into their constitution to have voters elect state judges. This eventually became the common method of choice for a majority of states for many years.

During the 1930’s some highly publicized cases highlighting the role of corrupt politics in the election process, in judicial decisions and the excessive time involved in campaigning caused many people to rethink the judicial selection process.

Eventually, a new plan, commonly called the Missouri Plan became the model of choice for judicial selections.

The Missouri Plan is a method to combine election and appointment of judges. Under the plan, candidates for judicial vacancies are first selected by commissions. They forward a short list of names to the governor. If the governor does not select one of these names to fill the position within sixty days, the committee makes the selection.

After one year during a general election, the judge enters into a “retention election” to determine if he will retain his office. This plan is also referred to as a ‘Merit Selection Plan with Governor Appointment‘. Currently 24 states use this plan.

Other types of judicial appointment methods

  • Governor Appointment (no selection commission) – in use by 3 states.
  • Legislative Appointment (no selection commission) – in use by 2 states.

There are two different permutations of the election method of selecting state judges. These are Partisan and Nonpartisan elections. Partisan elections have the candidates’ party affiliation listed on the ballot. A non-partisan election is one where the candidates are listed on the ballot with no label designating any party affiliation. Six states use partisan elections and 15 states currently employ the non-partisan election process.

The debate continues to rage over which method most limits the role of politics in the selection of state judges, with many states currently involved in trying to redefine their systems. For example, if Missouri faces an initiative on their ballot in November; the state’s historical merit selection method would be discarded and replaced by direct judicial elections.

Advocates of appointment claim it minimizes political considerations in the selection of judges, improves the quality of the judiciary and ensures judicial independence in deciding cases. In particular, the use of a judicial nominating commission composed primarily of lawyers and distinguished members of the community is seen as bringing a degree of expertise to the process of picking judges.

Their argument in its favor is that, unlike elective systems, the Missouri Plan is more likely to select qualified judges they say, because they are selected by experts. This assumes the voters, as a whole, are apathetic toward judicial races, are not familiar with the issues at hand, and are basically not competent to vote on judicial candidates.

Opponents of the so called merit plan say the selection is swayed by political insiders and the plan has handed influence over the judiciary to lawyers (mostly liberal leaning trial lawyers, they contend) and bar associations.

The amount of money spent on judicial elections continues to climb – doubling to more than $200 million over the last decade. Only $2 million was spent on those states using the merit system. More and more special interests groups are raising larger and larger sums of money to upset judges that have upheld laws they oppose.

According to district judge, Jeffrey Neary, he barely survived a campaign aimed at removing him from office for granting a divorce to a same-sex couple. He said the experience made him more cautious about how he approached controversial cases. “I don’t want judicial positions to be political positions,” he said. “If that happens I don’t want to be a judge.”

The trend of appointing a partisan to the bench has been gaining momentum in several states over the past few years. Judges have become more politically involved in their decisions over the years. Many have refused to take cases where they felt that there were fundamental issues that should be resolved by the people through the democratic process. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for the people to obtain access to superior court judges. These appointments are not based on the merit of the case, but rather on the party affiliation of the judge.

Whatever the outcome, we can be sure the judicial selection process be a continuing controversy for the foreseeable future.

Dos and Don’ts for Judicial Campaigns

judical campaign dos and don'tsIf you are running for judge, district attorney or other elected office, here are some of our top dos and don’t for online campaigning.

Do start early. There is a lot you can do online right now in preparation for your campaign. Put material about yourself out there now and begin building your online reputation.

Judges are often limited in when and how they can begin campaigning. For example, they may not be able to print campaign material or engage in online campaigning activities until a particular date.

They also may not publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office. They may also be restricted to seek, accept, or use endorsements from a political organization.

Don’t register a bad domain name. Adding the year or position to your domain name can easily make the name irrelevant in the future. Prosecutors and county attorney often move on to become judges. Using a non-specific name, such as the candidate’s name or ‘vote’ and name, will last much longer and can be reused throughout your career.

Don’t commit to a domain name before you actually own it. Even if you are waiting to start your campaign website, do not commit to using your chosen domain name before you have secured it. There’s nothing worse than ordering campaign supplies listing a website that is wrong or, worse, owned by someone else.

Do invest in a campaign website. The barriers to entry are low, and there is no reason why a candidate in any local race should fail to have a website. Your opponent will probably have one, and interested voters will be searching for you online. If you don’t control your own online message, someone else will.

Do take online political donations (if allowed). Integrating online donations is not very difficult these days. Third party payment processors provide an inexpensive way to accept payments or donations online. Don’t forget to open your campaign bank account early!

Don’t let visitors leave your website without a strong call to action. Every page of your website should ‘make an ask’. It can be a donation, a share, a volunteer request or even simple reminder to vote for you. If you have an email list, be sure to push visitors to sign up for additional updates and reminders.

Know the difference between your primary and general election. While nothing is ever really ‘deleted’ on the web, you may want to consider tweaking or expanding your online message for the general electorate after you’ve won your primary. ‘Red meat’ may get you on the ballot, but a candidate usually has to attract more than just the base to win a general election.

Don’t slow down at the end. Your final Get Out the Vote drive can mean the difference between winning and losing. When you have your volunteers talking to voters on the phone, door knocking and forming neighborhood committees, you will be able to increase your turnout.

Related: How Many Votes Do You Need To Win?

When it is time, wind down your online campaign properly. Make final website notifications, and thank your supporters. They deserve it.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Campaign Slogans for Judges

Choosing a campaign slogan for judge candidatesA good campaign slogan is important for any political campaign. The right slogan encapsulates your campaign message and your primary appeal to voters. It should be short, memorable and in the best cases tap into a genuine emotion.

Campaign slogans for judicial candidates tend to be based more on personal and professional traits.

A slogan is just a short phrase that describes what your candidacy is all about. The most effective campaign slogans are brief statements that offer clear action and are simple to remember. They are also easy for voters to recall and highlights your message. Slogans for judges should be written in simple understandable language that most people can understand.

Example judicial slogans:

  • Integrity. Honesty. Commitment.
  • Strength and Experience
  • Working for YOU
  • A Record of Accomplishment
  • Experience Counts
  • Hardworking, Experienced, Fair
  • Justice for YOU
  • Proven Experience and Integrity
  • The right experience, the right choice
  • Experience, Integrity and Justice with Compassion
  • Balanced, Fair, Firm
  • Additional judical political slogans

judicial campaign slogan tips

 

 

 

Notice something interesting? Compared to slogans of traditional candidates for legislative or executive candidates, these examples are, frankly, kind of boring.

The most important thing to remember when coming up with a campaign slogan for your candidacy is to select something that you believe in or are passionate about.

If you want to get elected to the bench, you can’t come across as too outrageous or partisan. Many states prohibit judicial candidates from making specific promises of what they will do in office other than general platitudes. Most of these races are non-partisan.

And while a judicial candidate could speak publicly about your views on specific hot-button issues, most candidates decline to do so. Instead, they tend to emphasize their experience or endorsements.

An endorsement from the local Police Benevolent Association might carry a different message than a candidate who promotes a long history as a public defender.

That still leaves voters to figure out how a judge will perform in court. They likely won’t be able to figure out where you stand from just your slogan.

Once you’ve chosen a tagline, be sure to use your slogan in your web and print advertising. This will help create and cement your ‘brand’ into voter’s minds.

Creating a Judicial Campaign Logo

Judicial Logo – Sunburst with Scales of Justice ThemeOnce designed, a campaign logo becomes the lynchpin of a judicial candidate’s overall branding. The logo will appear on campaign yard signs, candidate brochures, direct mailings, palm cards, video ads and all other forms of political campaign advertising.

A badly-designed logo will reflect poorly on a campaign and will keep people from taking it seriously. The logo should only include the most important elements of the candidate’s name and the elected office that they are running for. Political logos with too many colors or design elements will confuse visitors can even be difficult to read, particularly on yard signs.

Blatantly copying another campaign’s logo may raise accusations of plagiarism. Many designs are similar, but if you are going to borrow design elements, don’t do it from your opponent or anyone running in the same district.

Judicial Logo Templates

Online Candidate carries a large number of judicial logo templates. These files are in PSD and AI formats, designed for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. They are simple and designed to inspire a formal brand.

Sample logo templates from Online Candidate:

Judicial Logo – Sunburst with Scales of Justice Theme

Judicial Logo – Gavel Theme

Judicial Logo – Red Stripe and Scales of Justice Theme

See all political logo templates available for download.

Judicial Logo Tips

Keep the design simple. Many candidates for judge tend to use a serif font. Script lettering is harder to read and may not translate well to print. If you add additional elements, such as a gavel or the scales of justice, keep it subtle and don’t let it overwhelm the candidate’s name.

Use only a few colors. Judges tend to go with black and white or red and black. Odd colors may get attention but may also distract from the messaging. The position of judge lends itself well to stark, strong impressions.

Know the rules. There may be local rules or laws that prohibit what can appear on judicial signage. There may be restrictions about certain images and (particularly) wording. Be sure to know any existing rules so you don’t run into problems later.

Keep your look consistent. Once you have a campaign logo design, don’t change it later. Much of your voter branding is there in your logo. If you change it, you’ll lose much of that connection.

Online Candidate political website design packages include a custom header, logo and color design. A high-res version of the site logo for your use in print or signage is included for FREE.

Judicial Campaign Websites

judge campaign website

Judicial candidates can use the web to their advantage. A campaign website allows candidates to tell voters about their judicial qualifications and what they plan to do when they serve in court. Voters can use this information to help them make wise a choice when they go to the polls.

Online Candidate® gives judicial candidates the ability to create and update their own campaign website. We provide affordable campaign website design services.

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Judicial Election Website Designs by Online Candidate®

See our judicial campaign website design gallery.

The easy-to-use system makes it simple to add and edit your online message. Recruit supporters, raise funds online, add events and upload files, create contact forms, build an e-mail list and more.

No HTML or programming skills are required. We’ve helped many candidates create judicial candidate websites that help candidates run and win their elections.

Accept online donations. Online Candidate integrates with PayPal, Raise the Money – or you can integrate any payment processor. Judges and judicial candidates may want to consider LawPay to take online donations.

Recommended Content To Add To Your Campaign Website

Home Page: Create a ‘letter to voters’, telling them about your campaign, why you are running and what you hope to accomplish if you win. In time, you can update this information to include new developments or to shift your focus from general awareness to campaign support-gathering.

Biography/Resume: Start off with some personal information, and then take your resume and work it into a short biography. Keep your list short and bullet-pointed, but don’t simply make it a list of your work history. Work in a few words about what you did in those positions. Electing a judge is more than just about whether are qualified – voters need to like you, as well.

Organizations and Endorsements: Include any organizations you belong to, along with endorsements where possible. Endorsements can also be added throughout your site.

Voter Registration Information: Link to your state’s and/or county’s online voting registration pages.

Use your website to keep in touch with supporters and send voting reminders before Election Day.

For less than the cost of a mailing, you can have a great-looking website that will help WIN your judicial election. For more information, visit onlinecandidate.com.

Judicial Print and Brochure Templates

Campaigns without access to Quark and InDesign can still design and self-publish attractive campaign materials. Professionally designed brochure templates are the best way to create consistent-looking materials that will distinguish your judicial campaign from the competition.

Sample judicial-themed samples from Online Candidate:

Red White and Blue Brochure Template
Red, White and Blue
Judicial Brochure Template
Black and Gold Judicial
Judicial Candidate Print Templates - Gold Theme
Judicial – Gold
Black with Red Stripe Brochure Template
Black and Red
Blue and Red Red Stripe Brochure Template
Blue and Red
Red and Gray Stripe Brochure Template
Red and Gray Stripe
Blue Judicial Scale Brochure Template
Judicial – Blue Scale
Red Judicial Scale Brochure Template
Judicial – Red Scale
Yellow Brochure Template
Yellow Template

View entire brochure selection

Each brochure template package includes the following Microsoft Word templates:

  • Political Tri-Fold Brochure Template (Letter trifold 8.5″ x 11″)
  • Political Postcard Templates (4″x6″ and 4.25″ x 5.5″ designed for Avery Compatible Paper Stock)
  • Rack Card Templates (3.74″ x 8.27″ trim size)
  • Rack Card Templates (4″ x 9″ trim size trim size)
  • Political Business Card Template (2″x3″ designed for Avery Compatible Paper Stock)
  • Political Letterhead Template (8.5″ x 11″)
  • Political Press Release Template (8.5″ x 11″)

Why purchase a single template when you can own the COMPLETE set?

Free up your valuable time! Download these templates to add a professional edge to your judicial campaign brochures and handout.

types of domain names

Domain Names For Judicial Candidates

domain names for judgesWhile the majority of judicial candidates go with the typical .com and .net domain name extension for their campaign websites, did you know that there are brand new extensions available? You can register all types of specialized TLDs (extensions) for a variety of businesses, services and interests.

The .LAW extension is designed for attorneys, judges, law schools, online law or legal blogs, legal news aggregators and more.  The .ATTORNEY and .LAWYER domain name extension is perfect for any private practice lawyer, firm, legal service, or legal entity. And, of course, .LEGAL works for the above, too.

These extensions are not just for candidates, but also for practicing lawyers and attorneys. According to the American Bar Association, more than 50 percent of people looking for an attorney online base their decision on the strength of the potential attorney’s website.

Specialized domain name extensions can help establish an online presence and create an edge in a virtual marketplace.

Other specialized domain name extensions are available for registration. You may be surprised what new ones come to market. Soon they will soon be coming to websites near you.