Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3: The role of sitting judges on merit selection committees

September 11th, 2012 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

Among other things Missouri’s Amendment 3 would change is the role of the state’s Supreme Court, and in particular the service of one of its members.

Judges as members of the Missouri commissions

Under the state’s constitution there are two types of judicial nominating commissions: one that serves to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (“The Appellate Judicial Commission”) and separate ones for each circuit or county that has merit selection (“The …… Circuit Judicial Commission”). Presently, the state’s Supreme Court picks one of its own members to serve on the Appellate Judicial Commission; for Circuit Judicial Commissions the chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the area serves. The constitution doesn’t require that the chair of the commission by the Supreme Court Judge (members of the Missouri Supreme Court are properly referred to as Judges, except the Chief Justice) or Court of Appeals Judge, although it appears the Judges do serve as chair in practice.

Amendment 3: Remove the sitting Supreme Court judge

If approved by voters, Amendment 3 would remove the provision for a sitting member of the state Supreme Court from serving on the Appellate Judicial Commission. Instead, a retired judge meeting certain criteria would be added as a non-voting member.

The members of the supreme court shall select a former judge, who has not lost a retention election or been removed for cause, of the court of appeals or the supreme court to serve as the nonvoting member of the commission…The voting members of the commission shall select one of the voting members to serve as chairman.

Not only does the provision remove the sitting judge from the Appellate Judicial Commission, it expressly precludes the retired judge to be named from serving as chair of the commission.

Constitutional provisions for judges as members of other merit selection commissions

States are about evenly divided on whether there is a state constitutional provision requiring a judge serve on nominating commissions; some states like South Dakota that have no constitutional requirement for judges to sit on such commissions have done so by statute where the constitution grants the legislature discretion to establish the composition of such bodies.

Details below the fold.

State Body Level of court Constitution requires
judge serve? judge chair? judge vote?
Alaska Judicial Council Trial and appellate Chief Justice Yes Yes
Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments Appellate Chief Justice Yes Yes
Arizona Commission on Trial Court Appointments Trial and appellate Chief Justice Yes Yes
Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission Appellate (including Court of Appeals, despite name) Chief Justice Yes No, expressly prohibited
Colorado Judicial District Nominating Commission Trial S.C. Justice Yes No, expressly prohibited
Connecticut Judicial Selection Commission Trial and appellate No N/A N/A
Florida Judicial Nominating Commission (Supreme Court) Supreme Court No N/A N/A
Florida Judicial Nominating Commission (District Court of Appeals, 1 per district) District Court of Appeals No N/A N/A
Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission Trial and appellate No N/A N/A
Indiana Judicial nominating commission for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Appellate Chief Justice Yes Yes
Iowa State Judicial Nominating Commission Supreme Court (and Court of Appeals, by statute only) Most senior S.C. Justice OTHER than Chief Justice Yes Yes
Iowa District Judicial Nominating Commission Trial Most senior district judge Yes Yes
Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission Supreme Court (and Court of Appeals, by statute only) No N/A N/A
Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission Appellate Yes No Yes
Missouri Circuit Judicial Commissions Trial Yes No Yes
Nebraska Judicial Nominating Commission (office of Chief Justice) Chief Justice S.C. Justice chosen by Governor Yes No, expressly prohibited
Nebraska Judicial Nominating Commission (Supreme Court & Court of Appeals, by statute) Appellate S.C. Justice chosen by Governor Yes No, expressly prohibited
Nebraska Judicial Nominating Commission (Trial Courts) Trial S.C. Justice chosen by Governor Yes No, expressly prohibited
New Mexico Appellate judges nominating commission Appellate Chief Justice + 2 Court of Appeals Judges No Yes
New Mexico District Court Judges Nominating Committee Trial Chief Judge for District + 1 Court of Appeals Judge No Yes
New Mexico Metropolitan Court Judges Nominating Committee Trial Chief Judge for District No Yes
New York Commission on Judicial Nomination State’s court of last resort (Court of Appeals) only No N/A N/A
Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission Appellate No N/A N/A
Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission Trial and appellate No N/A N/A
South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission Trial and appellate No N/A N/A
South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission Appellate No N/A N/A
Utah Judicial Nominating Commission (Appellate) Appellate No N/A N/A
Utah Judicial Nominating Commission (Trial) Trial No N/A N/A
Vermont “a judicial nominating body”; called Judicial Nominating Board by statute Appellate & select Trial (Superior & District) No N/A N/A
Wyoming Judicial Nominating Commission Trial and appellate Chief Justice Yes Yes, but only to break ties

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