Methods Of Judicial Selection - Judicialselection.us

Methods of Judicial Selection


Methods of Judicial Selection

Selection of Judges

Alabama

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 9
Court of Criminal Appeals: 5
Court of Civil Appeals: 5
Circuit Court: 144

Number of Districts/Circuits

Supreme Court: --
Court of Criminal Appeals: --
Court of Civil Appeals: --
Circuit Court: 41

Geographic Basis for Selection

Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Criminal Appeals: statewide
Court of Civil Appeals: statewide
Circuit Court: circuit

Method of Selection (full term)

Supreme Court: partisan election
Court of Criminal Appeals: partisan election
Court of Civil Appeals: partisan election
Circuit Court: partisan election

Length of Term

Supreme Court: 6 yrs
Court of Criminal Appeals: 6 yrs
Court of Civil Appeals: 6 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs

Method of Retention

Supreme Court: reelection
Court of Criminal Appeals: reelection
Court of Civil Appeals: reelection
Circuit Court: reelection

Length of Subsequent Terms

Supreme Court: 6 yrs
Court of Criminal Appeals: 6 yrs
Court of Civil Appeals: 6 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs

Method of Filling Interim Vacancies

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment
Court of Criminal Appeals: gubernatorial appointment
Court of Civil Appeals: gubernatorial appointment
Circuit Court: gubernatorial appointment*

When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment

Supreme Court: next general election after 1 yr in office
Court of Criminal Appeals: next general election after 1 yr in office
Court of Civil Appeals: next general election after 1 yr in office
Circuit Court: next general election after 1 yr in office

Selection of Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: popular election
Court of Criminal Appeals: peer vote
Court of Civil Appeals: seniority
Circuit Court: peer vote

Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: 6 yrs
Court of Criminal Appeals: indefinite
Court of Civil Appeals: indefinite
Circuit Court: 3 yrs

Qualifications

Supreme Court: licensed to practice law 10 yrs; 1 yr resident; maximum age of 70
Court of Criminal Appeals: licensed to practice law 10 yrs; 1 yr resident; maximum age of 70
Court of Civil Appeals: licensed to practice law 10 yrs; 1 yr resident; maximum age of 70
Circuit Court: licensed to practice law 5 yrs; 1 yr resident of circuit; maximum age of 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Amendment 328 of the Alabama Constitution.

*In Baldwin, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Madison, Mobile, Shelby, Talladega, and Tuscaloosa Counties, gubernatorial appointments are made from lists of candidates submitted by judicial nominating commissions.

Alaska

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 5
Court of Appeals: 3
Superior Court: 40

Number of Districts/Circuits

Supreme Court: --
Court of Appeals: --
Superior Court: 4

Geographic Basis for Selection

Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: statewide
Superior Court: district

Method of Selection (full term)

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission

Length of Term

Supreme Court: at least 3 yrs
Court of Appeals: at least 3 yrs
Superior Court: at least 3 yrs

Method of Retention

Supreme Court: retention election
Court of Appeals: retention election
Superior Court: retention election

Length of Subsequent Terms

Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Court of Appeals: 8 yrs
Superior Court: 6 yrs

Method of Filling Interim Vacancies

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission

When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment

Supreme Court: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment
Court of Appeals: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment
Superior Court: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment

Selection of Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: peer vote
Court of Appeals: chief justice appoints
Superior Court: chief justice appoints

Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: 3 yrs
Court of Appeals: 2 yrs
Superior Court: 1 yr

Qualifications

Supreme Court: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 8 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70
Court of Appeals: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 8 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70
Superior Court: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 5 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article 4 of the Alaska Constitution.

Note: The court of appeals hears only criminal appeals.

Arizona

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 22
Superior Court: 174

Number of Districts/Circuits

Supreme Court: --
Court of Appeals: 2 divisions
Superior Court: 15 counties

Geographic Basis for Selection

Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: division*
Superior Court: county

Method of Selection (full term)

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: partisan primary; nonpartisan general election/gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission**

Length of Term

Supreme Court: at least 2 yrs
Court of Appeals: at least 2 yrs
Superior Court: 4 yrs/at least 2 yrs**

Method of Retention

Supreme Court: retention election
Court of Appeals: retention election
Superior Court: reelection/retention election**

Length of Subsequent Terms

Supreme Court: 6 yrs
Court of Appeals: 6 yrs
Superior Court: 4 yrs

Method of Filling Interim Vacancies

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment/gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission**

When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment

Supreme Court: next general election after 2 yrs in office
Court of Appeals: next general election after 2 yrs in office
Superior Court: next general election/next general election after 2 yrs in office**

Selection of Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: peer vote
Court of Appeals: peer vote
Superior Court: supreme court appoints

Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: 5 yrs
Court of Appeals: 1 yr
Superior Court: remainder of 4 yr term

Qualifications

Supreme Court: state resident and licensed in state 10 yrs; mandatory retirement at 70
Court of Appeals: 30 yrs of age; state resident and licensed in state 5 yrs; local resident 1 yr; mandatory retirement at 70
Superior Court: 30 yrs of age; state resident and licensed in state 5 yrs; local resident 1 yr; mandatory retirement at 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article 6 of the Arizona Constitution. 

*Court of appeals judges who reside in Maricopa and Pima Counties stand for retention in those counties. Court of appeals judges who reside in counties other than Maricopa and Pima stand for retention in all of the other counties within their division.

**The Arizona Constitution provides for merit selection and retention of judges in counties with populations of 250,000 or greater. Currently, this includes Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties.  Counties whose populations are less than 250,000 may adopt merit selection through ballot initiative. Coconino County opted into merit selection via this method in 2018.

Arkansas

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 12
Circuit Court: 122

Number of Districts/Circuits

Supreme Court: 1
Court of Appeals: 7
Circuit Court: 23

Geographic Basis for Selection

Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: district
Circuit Court: circuit

Method of Selection (full term)

Supreme Court: nonpartisan election*+
Court of Appeals: nonpartisan election*+
Circuit Court: nonpartisan election*+

Length of Term

Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 6 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs

Method of Retention

Supreme Court: reelection
Court of Appeals: reelection
Circuit Court: reelection

Length of Subsequent Terms

Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 6 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs

Method of Filling Interim Vacancies

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment
Circuit Court: gubernatorial appointment

When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment

Supreme Court: next general election at least 4 mos after vacancy occurred
Court of Appeals: next general election at least 4 mos after vacancy occurred
Circuit Court: next general election at least 4 mos after vacancy occurred

Selection of Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: popular election
Court of Appeals: chief justice appoints
Circuit Court: supreme court appoints

Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 4 yrs
Circuit Court: no set term

Qualifications

Supreme Court: 30 yrs of age; of good moral character; learned in the law; U.S. citizen; state resident > 2 yrs; 8 yrs practice of law
Court of Appeals: 30 yrs of age; of good moral charater; learned in the law; U.S. citizen; state resident > 2 yrs ; 8 yrs practice of law
Circuit Court: 28 yrs of age; of good moral character; learned in the law; U.S. citizen; state resident > 2 yrs; 6 yrs practice of law

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Amendment 80 of the Arkansas Constitution. 

*Judicial candidates run in a nonpartisan primary election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, there is a runoff in the general election.

+Incumbency is designated on the ballot by including the current title of a judge.

California

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 102
Superior Court: 1535

Number of Districts/Circuits

Supreme Court: --
Court of Appeals: 6
Superior Court: 58*

Geographic Basis for Selection

Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: district
Superior Court: county

Method of Selection (full term)

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Superior Court: nonpartisan election****+

Length of Term

Supreme Court: 12 yrs
Court of Appeals: 12 yrs
Superior Court: 6 yrs

Method of Retention

Supreme Court: retention election
Court of Appeals: retention election
Superior Court: reelection

Length of Subsequent Terms

Supreme Court: 12 yrs
Court of Appeals: 12yrs
Superior Court: 6 yrs

Method of Filling Interim Vacancies

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment**

When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment

Supreme Court: next gubernatorial election
Court of Appeals: next gubernatorial election
Superior Court: next general election

Selection of Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment;**confirmation by commission on judicial appointments***
Superior Court: peer vote

Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice

Supreme Court: 12 yrs
Court of Appeals: 12 yrs
Superior Court: 1 or 2 yrs, depending on county

Qualifications

Supreme Court: 10 yrs practice of law in state or service as judge of court of record
Court of Appeals: 10 yrs practice of law in state or service as judge of court of record
Superior Court: 10 yrs practice of law in state or service as judge of court of record

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article VI of the California Constitution. 

*In 1998, voters approved Proposition 220, a constitutional amendment that allowed the judges in each county to merge their superior and municipal courts into a single superior court. By early 2001, all of the state's 58 counties had voted to unify their courts.

**Since 1979, the legislature has required that the State Bar of California's commission on judicial nominees evaluation (informally known as the Jenny Commission) review the qualifications and fitness of prospective judicial appointees through an extensive investigation. The commission, which consists of both public members and attorneys, rates candidates as exceptionally well qualified, well qualified, qualified, or not qualified. The governor is not bound by the commission's recommendations.

***The commission on judicial appointments consists of three members: the chief justice, the attorney general, and the senior presiding justice of the court of appeal of the affected appellate district. When a supreme court appointee is being considered, the third member of the commission is the senior presiding justice of the state's courts of appeal. The commission holds one or more public hearings to review the appointee's qualifications and may confirm or veto the appointment by majority vote.

****If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary election, there is a general-election runoff between the top two candidates. If an incumbent judge is unopposed, s/he is automatically reelected; the judge's name does not appear on the ballot. The constitution provides that electors in each county may, by majority vote, opt for the selection of superior court judges by the method used for appellate court judges. To date, no counties have adopted an appointive process.

 +Incumbency designations on the ballot are determined by each county. 

Colorado

Number of Judgeships

Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 22
District Court: 164

 




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