Here's the op-ed I wrote on the recall of judges in California and nationwide, jumping off from the attempt against Judge M. Marc Kelly.
Here's a couple of key paragraph on the historical data:
The recall of judges in California is so rare that it is not clear when voters last used the device. The most comprehensive book on the early use of the recall, which was written in 1930, notes that four municipal judges and three justices of the peace were recalled and removed. And there has been virtually no mention of a recall of a judge in the state since.
The lack of recalls against judges is not just a California issue. Perhaps the last time the U.S. saw recalls against judges were in Wisconsin, and the subject matter should prove of interest to Kelly’s opponents. In both cases, lower court judges had made incredibly inappropriate comments from the bench against sexual assault victims. In 1977, Judge Archie Simonson was tossed out by voters after both handing down extremely lenient sentencing for a rapist and making negative comments about women and rape victims from the bench. This was followed in 1982 when Judge William Reinecke survived a recall vote after making wildly offensive comments about a 5-year-old sexual assault victim.
Why have recalls against judges not taken off? This hesitation dates back to the modern-day origins of the device. The original adopters had many issues with allowing the recall to be used against judges. The major concern, which is echoed today, is that making judges subject to the quick anger of voters may result in misguided rulings and gun-shy judges.