Assignment 1: The State Judicial Selection Process System
“United States district court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process from that of state judges. The district courts are served by Article III federal judges, who are appointed for life during good behavior. They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States nominates judges, who must then be confirmed by the United States Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution” (Ballotpedia, 2015).
- Discuss the judicial selection process of your state. Include, at a minimum, the qualifications and steps that are taken in order to select judges for the different kinds of courts within your specific state.
“Selection of state court judges in Virginia occurs almost exclusively through legislative selection. Having used this method even before it was granted statehood, Virginia is one of only two states in the country, the other being South Carolina, where judges are selected this way” (va.gov, 2015). “When the general assembly is in session, midterm vacancies are filled by the same legislative selection process normally used to select judges. When the assembly is not in session, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until 30 days after the start of the next session, by which point a judge must be selected to the seat” (Ballotpedia, 2015).
“To serve on the supreme court, court of appeals or circuit court, a judge must be. a state resident, a circuit resident (for circuit judges), a state bar member for at least five years; and no older than 70 “(va.gov, 2015). “Retirement is mandatory for sitting judges who turn 70 while in office. Such judges may continue serving until 20 days after the convening of the regular general assembly session following his or her birthday. An increase in judicial retirement age has also been passed by the state legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature” (va.gov, 2015).
“The selection process is identical for supreme court, court of appeals, and circuit court judges. As outlined in Article VI of the Virginia Constitution, judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined house of delegates and senate)” (va.gov, 2015). “Supreme court justices serve for twelve years while appeals and circuit judges serve for eight years. At the end of their terms, judges must be re-selected by the legislature just as they initially were” (va.gov, 2015). “The chief justice and judge of each court is selected by peer vote. The supreme court chief justice serves in that capacity for four years, while the chief judges of the appeals and circuit courts serve for two years” (va.gov, 2015).
“Most of New York’s trial court judges are chosen in partisan elections, with judicial candidates competing in primary elections to determine who will represent the party in the general election. According to statute, however, candidates for the supreme court (the major trial court) are chosen through a party convention system, in which primary voters elect convention delegates who choose candidates for the judgeships” (LLC – Ames, 2019).
- Choose a second state, and describe the qualifications and the selection process for judges within that state.
Unsuccessful candidates for supreme court judgeships and a watchdog group recently challenged the constitutionality of this process, asserting that it discouraged party outsiders from seeking these seats, but in early 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the system in a unanimous decision (New York Board of Elections v. Lopez Torres). According to Justice Antonin Scalia, who authored the Court’s opinion, “None of our cases establishes an individual’s constitutional right to have a ‘fair shot’ at winning the party’s nomination.” (LLC – Ames, 2019).
In Virginia, to serve on the supreme court, the court of appeals or circuit court, a judge must be a state resident, a circuit resident (for circuit judges), a state bar member for at least five years; and no older than 70. For sitting judges turning 70 while in office, retiring is mandatory. Following his or her birthday, these judges carry on serving until 20 days after the convening of the regular general assembly session. The judicial retirement age has been raised and passed by the state legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature. To serve as a judge in a New York court, you need to be a state resident, have a minimum of often years of in-state law practice, and be under the age of 70 (retirement at 70 is mandatory) (Ballotpedia, 2015).
- Compare and contrast for both states the qualifications necessary for a prospective candidate to become a judge. Next, identify the steps that the relevant persons / entities need to take in order to remove a judge from office for disciplinary reasons for each state.
“Virginia judges may be removed in one of two ways. The judicial inquiry and review commission investigates complaints of judicial misconduct or serious mental or physical disability that interferes with a judge’s duties. The commission may conduct hearings and gather evidence to determine whether the charges are substantial. If the commission finds the charges to be significant, a formal complaint is filed with the supreme court. The supreme court may dismiss the complaint or it may retire, censure, or remove the judge” (LLC – Ames, 2019).
“Judges may be impeached by the house of delegates and removed by a two thirds vote of the senate” (LLC – Ames, 2019). “New York judges may be removed in one of three ways. Judges may be admonished, censured, retired, or removed from office by the commission on judicial conduct. The commission’s disciplinary actions are subject to review by the court of appeals”(Ballotpedia, 2015). “Judges of the court of appeals and justices of the supreme court may be removed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. Other judges may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the Senate on the recommendation of the governor” (Ballotpedia, 2015.)
“Judges may be impeached by a majority vote of the assembly and removed by a two-thirds vote of the court for the trial of impeachments. The court consists of the president of the senate, the senators, and the judges of the court of appeals” (Ballotpedia, 2015).
The selection process for judges in the state of Virginia has the best system in place. The Virginia system is better because it is more simplistic than New York. The selection of judges in Virginia is by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined house of delegates and Senate). The same would apply if you wanted to be a chief justice or judge. Chief justices and judges of each court are chosen by peer vote. The supreme court chief justice serves four years, and the chief judges of the appeals and circuit courts serve for two years. State court judges in New York are selected primarily through partisan elections, but the appellate courts and certain limited jurisdiction courts use the assisted appointment method (Ballotpedia, 2015).
- Justify the selection process for the state that you believe has the best system in place. Justify the response.
Click following link to download this document
SOC 205 Assignment 1 - The State Judicial Selection Process System.docx