Document Type


Publication Title

New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy



Publication Date



local government; judges; Ferguson; elections


This interview-based empirical study explores how local judges view themselves and their crosscutting roles in local and state government. In particular, it considers local judges’ relationships with the public that elects them, the executive and legislative branches of their localities, and the larger statewide judicial bureaucracy of which they are a very large but somewhat disconnected part. The Article reports on the results of interviews with local judges at the county, town, and village levels — and suggests some broader lessons for scholars, officials, and policymakers interested and active in local government law and politics. Those who study local government have insufficiently appreciated how the local courts are a part of the constellation of local power and sovereignty, and they have failed to appreciate some of the psychological and institutional pressures local judges face in performing their roles.