Study Says Judges’ Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases

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Study Says Judges Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases

Connecticut renters are more likely to encounter unfavorable judgments in housing proceedings when facing judges with a corporate or prosecutorial background, dominating the state’s bench, a recent report reveals.

In-Depth Analysis of Housing Court Cases

Released on Monday by the People’s Parity Project (PPP), an organization dedicated to prioritizing people over profits in the justice system, the report sheds light on the impact of judges’ professional backgrounds. In collaboration with the University of Connecticut School of Law chapter, PPP meticulously examined housing court dockets from January 2018 to December 2023, analyzing 3,605 cases overseen by 62 judges.

Corporate and Prosecutorial Backgrounds Linked to Unfavorable Outcomes

Judges with backgrounds in general practice, legal aid, the attorney general’s office, and plaintiffs’ litigation consistently delivered better outcomes for renters, earning lower scores in the analysis. Conversely, judges with prosecutorial or corporate backgrounds scored higher, displaying a tendency to side with landlords.

Policy Implications and Advocacy Efforts

The study contends that the nomination of judges with prosecutorial or corporate backgrounds favors landlords over tenants. PPP advocates for a policy shift towards nominating judges with public interest, general practice, and plaintiffs’ litigation backgrounds to provide support to renters facing eviction.

Study Says Judges’ Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases : The Call for Judicial Diversity

PPP at UConn Law has been vocal in criticizing judicial nominees and is part of the Connecticut Pro-People Judiciary Coalition, advocating for more candidates with public interest backgrounds. The report builds on a previous study from March 2022, highlighting the lack of diversity in judges’ backgrounds in the state.

Study Says Judges’ Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases :  Influencing the Legal System

Steve Kennedy, PPP’s organizing and network director, emphasizes the influence of judges’ prior work on their approach to the law. PPP proposes measures such as increasing transparency in the judicial selection process, diversifying the bench, and addressing public interest drift in law schools to ensure a balanced judiciary.

Recommendations for a Fairer Legal System

To strengthen the pipeline of judicial candidates, PPP recommends transparency in the selection process, commitment to increasing professional diversity, countering public interest drift in law schools, reducing student debt, and enhancing pay for state judicial clerkships and internships.

Study Says Judges’ Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases : Overhauling the Nomination Process

PPP urges changes to the commission’s private selection process, including additional questions about applicants’ broad experience. The organization recommends amendments to state law requiring the reporting of the professional experience of both applicants and approved candidates.

Prioritizing Underrepresented Backgrounds

PPP encourages the commission and the governor to prioritize candidates with underrepresented professional backgrounds. The judiciary committee should consider these backgrounds and the full slate of nominees during candidate evaluations.

The Crucial Role of Legal Professionals

Kathy Flaherty, executive director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, emphasizes the importance of nominating judges with experience in public interest, legal aid, and civil rights. These professionals bring unique insights into the real impact of laws on people’s lives, often overlooked in the nomination process.

Study Says Judges’ Backgrounds Affect Housing Cases : Shaping Future Leaders

PPP calls for law schools to support students interested in public interest work, highlighting pathways to the judiciary. Addressing student debt, PPP suggests increasing scholarship opportunities and lowering tuition at UConn Law. Connecticut could explore funding options like a bonus program or loan repayment for law school graduates with public interest careers.

Rethinking Judicial Clerkships

PPP proposes increasing salaries for judicial clerkships to attract more students, creating a pathway for future nominations and promoting diversity in the legal system.