Rhode Island may extend for a seventh year “temporary” revision to state’s merit selection system

A one-year “temporary” revision to Rhode Island’s merit selection system that has been extended 6 times has been reintroduced for one more extension. Under the plan (HB 8006) anyone vetted and approved by the merit selection system for a judgeship would be eligible for any other judgeship of the same court for at least 5 years. The original merit selection plan in operation from 1994 to 2007 required a person reapply and be reexamined for each new vacancy. The eligible-for-five-years plan first started in 2008 and has been renewed every year since (HB 7829 of 2008, HB 5567 of 2009, SB 2645 of 2010, SB 686 of 2011, HB 8043 of 2012, and SB 471 of 2013).

This eligible-for-five-years program met with some resistance last year (coverage here) over accusations of politicization when the governor nominated in May 2013 a former Senate president for a Superior Court vacancy based on the former Senator’s vetting in August 2010. Gavel Grab had done extensive coverage of the issue. Another 1 year extender bill was enacted in 2013 but had to be made retroactive as the old law had expired.