Revised Judicial Election Plan Wins Senate Support, is Adopted

On June 12, the Senate completed action on a revised judicial election plan that preserves merit selection, performance evaluation and retention elections. The action came on a 21-10 vote to "concur" with a House-adopted amendment to remove a provision from the bill that would have allowed the governor to "reach down," beyond the two panels of three candidates submitted to him, to any candidate who applied for commission consideration.

Major features of the bill include:

  • creation of a new 17-member judicial nominating commission appointed by the two speakers with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 lawyers.
  • continuation of retention elections for Supreme Court and intermediate appellate court judges, with new language asking voters if they wish to retain or replace judges.
  • establishment of a newly-restructured judicial performance evaluation commission to evaluate appellate judges.

The plan will go into effect July 1. The bodies that administer the plan will sunset on June 30, 2012.