In most, if not all, other merit selection systems, governors are presented with a list of names from which they must chose. Once the selection is made, the individuals not selected must reapply if there is another vacancy. However since 2007 Rhode Island has modified this process and appears set to continue to do so.
Under R.I. Gen. Laws 8.16.1-6(4) , any person whose name was among the 3-5 publicly submitted to the governor by the judicial nominating commission for a judicial vacancy is deemed eligible for a subsequent nomination by the governor for a period of five years within the same court.
First enacted in 2007 (SB 892 of 2007) this alteration was suppose to sunset June 30, 2008, but has been given yearly extensions: HB 7829 of 2008, HB 5567 of 2009, SB 2645 of 2010, and SB 686 of 2011. Curiously, the 2010 extension went into effect without the Governor’s signature (Rhode Island’s constitution generally gives the governor 6 days to sign or veto a bill, otherwise it becomes law automatically).
Yesterday the Rhode Island legislature finalized approval of yet another 1-year extension to June 2013 when the House approved SB 2680.
Judges so chosen must still get House and Senate confirmed (Supreme Court) or just Senate confirmed (Superior Court), per the state’s constitution (Art. X, Sec. 4) and are appointed for life/”during good behavior.”
SB 2680 now goes to the governor.