Proposed change to Illinois judicial retention looks similar to Hawaii’s system; would eliminate many/most retention elections

The judicial retention system in Hawaii is unique from among all the U.S. states. Rather than having to run for re-election (partisan, non-partisan, or retention) or seek reappointment/reconfirmation, judges in Hawaii are reviewed by an independent body (the state’s Judicial Selection Commission). and either retained in office or not at the end of their term.

Illinois’ HJR 10 would provide for a similar retention-by-panel system. Under the constitutional amendment, all Illinois judges would be brought before 11 member Judicial Retention Commissions for their district (6 non-attorneys, 5 attorneys). Judges would be reviewed for their “character, background, temperament, professional aptitude, experience, and commitment to justice”.

If 60% of the Commission approved, the judge would be retained. A judge failing to get the 60% Commission vote would then be able to run in a yes/no retention election, where they would have to get approval by 60% of voters, as is the current practice.

HJR 10 is currently pending in the House Rules Committee.