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Forum explores role of money in judicial elections

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By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-934592.mp3

Buffalo, NY – A panel of local judges and attorneys will discuss the growing problem of highly-financed judicial campaigns at a public forum on Tuesday afternoon.

The free, public forum is being sponsored by the Partnership for the Public Good. Scheduled to speak on the panel are Justice Eugene Fahey, Justice-elect Catherine Nugent Panepinto, and attorneys James Magavern and John Ned Lipsitz.

The goal of the forum is to raise awareness about how much money is being poured into judicial campaigns - and the potential pitfalls of that trend. Sam Magavern is co-director of the PPG. He said it's a problem recognized at the highest level of the judiciary.

Magavern said some special interest groups invest heavily into judicial elections. And he said they often expect things in return.

He said even if there is not actual influence, there can be a perception that impartiality is being compromised. Magavern said they also will discuss possible remedies, including several kinds of reforms already being adopted in other states.

Magavern said the forum is intended to be a first step toward pushing for reforms.

The forum is being held on Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. until 5:30 P.M. at the Cornell University ILR School, 237 Main St., suite 1200. For more information or to reserve a seat email megan@ppgbuffalo.org