What are the pros and cons of elected judges?

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The majority of U.S. states incorporate some form of judicial election via partisan contested elections, non-partisan contested elections, or retention elections. Each of these types of election of judges presents advantages and disadvantages over a pure judicial appointment system. 

The primary advantage of having some form of election in the selection and/or the retention of judges is that such systems provide a community with a voice regarding the judges who sit in that community. In some systems, this includes community selection of judges via contested election, and in others it only involves community retention of appointed judges. In either type of system, contested election or retention election, if a judge is a problem, the community has a mechanism for removing that judge. Conversely, in an appointment system, removal of a judge often requires specific kinds of wrongdoing on the judge's part and action by one or both of the other branches of government in the state.


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