October 23, 2013

Podcast: Scraping the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Today we’re continuing our new occasional podcast series with a conversation between the Center’s Kate Golden and freelancer Jake Harper, about his recently published piece showing that over the past decade, Wisconsin Supreme Court justices tended to favor clients whose attorneys had donated to their campaigns, and recused themselves from just 2 percent of cases involving attorney donors.

This isn’t the sort of project that could be done with old-fashioned reporting techniques. Harper, not an expert computer programmer, wrote a series of computer programs to scrape 11 years of cases from the Wisconsin Supreme Court website and cross-reference the attorneys listed with campaign finance records at the Government Accountability Board.

To sum up, it was a learning experience:

The story:
Wisconsin Supreme Court justices tend to favor attorney donors Oct. 20, 2013

The data visualization: