Independent spending on state supreme court races by special interest groups in the 2011-2012 election cycle, a record high: $15.4 million

Percent by which that amount exceeded the the previous record set in the 2003-2004 cycle: 50

Independent spending on state supreme court races by special interest groups and political parties combined: $24.1 million

Percent of the money spent in state supreme court races by the top 10 spenders in 2011-2012 that went toward independent expenditures rather than candidate contributions, a trend driven by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that struck down limits on such spending by corporations and unions: 97

Spending in the 2011-2012 cycle on TV ads for judges' campaigns, another record high: $33.7 million

Number of states where negative ads against judges aired, including misleading spots that described candidates as being "sympathetic to rapists," "volunteer[ing] to help free a terrorist," and "protect[ing] … sex offenders": 10

Rank of North Carolina among states that saw the most independent spending by special interest groups on judicial races in 2011-2012: 1*

Amount that the super PAC North Carolina Judicial Coalition, backed by conservative and business interests, spent on efforts to re-elect Justice Paul Newby to the state Supreme Court: $2.9 million

Amount that Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group linked to the billionaire brothers who run the Koch Industries oil and chemical conglomerate, spent to support Newby: $250,000

Rank of the Newby race among AFP's largest judicial advocacy efforts to date: 1

Amount AFP spent on TV ads and other advocacy to oppose retention of three state Supreme Court justices in Florida, a merit selection state with retention elections where the governor has the power to appoint a new judge if a sitting judge loses his or her seat: $155,000

Amount the NRA-linked Law Enforcement Alliance of America spent in Mississippi to air an attack ad against a candidate who had been a plaintiff-side trial lawyer: $450,000

In a recent poll of voters, percent who said they believe contributions to judges' campaigns and independent spending on judicial races influence judges' decisions, an all-time high: 87

Percent who said that when a party in a court case has either donated directly to a judge's campaign or spent significantly on electioneering on the judge's behalf, the judge should step aside: 92

* Besides North Carolina, the other states in the top five for independent spending on judicial races by special interest groups were Wisconsin ($3.7 million), Florida ($3.3 million), Michigan ($1.2 million), and Mississippi ($1 million).

(Click on figure to go to source. Most of the numbers in this report and the pie chart above come from "The New Politics of Judicial Elections: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts" by the Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, released in October 2013.)