Georgia bill would create a merit-selection style panel for interim vacancies; gives 18 of 23 seats to minority bar associations

Yesterday I noted that the Virginia Senate is considering changing, but not eliminating, the power of that state’s governor with respect to some interim appointments. Georgia’s HB 30 of 2013 would take it one step further and set up a merit-selection style commission for interim appellate vacancies, but one unlike any other in the nation. (News coverage here).

Currently law allows the governor to name an interim judge to fill a vacancy (O.C.G.A. § 45-12-50), provided that the individual did not contribute to the Governor’s campaign (O.C.G.A. § 45-12-61).

Under HB 30 vacancies on the state’s appellate courts and main trial courts (State and Superior) would still be filled by the Governor, but from a list generated by a Judicial Nominating Commission made up of 23 members, 18 of whom represent minority bar associations.

5 named by the Governor

3 by the president of the Gate City Bar Association

3 by the president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys

3 by the president of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association

3 by the president of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association

3 by the president of the Stonewall Bar Association

3 by the president of the Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys

There is no apparently minimum or maximum to the number of names the Commission could submit to the Governor; although the statute recommends at least three names it does not require it. Moreover, the names would be submitted alphabetically and not in rank order.

The bill has been prefiled in the House.