Nevada bill eliminates elections for District Court judges; lets lower chamber of legislature pick all future judges

This session has seen two efforts to outright end judicial elections (partisan, nonpartisan, or yes/no retention) and provide instead for reappointment/reconfirmation: Oregon appellate judges (discussed here) and Maryland trial judges (discussed here). There is now a third such push in Nevada that focuses on trial judges, but in a unique fashion.

First, some background.

Nevada’s District Court is the state’s general jurisdiction court. The state’s constitution requires the judges of that court be elected for full 6 year terms (Art. 6, Sec. 5) and a separate state law makes those elections nonpartisan (NRS 293.195). Interim vacancies are filled by the Governor through a Commission on Judicial Selection that submits a list of three names for selection (Art. 6, Sec. 15).

AJR 9, as introduced, modifies the┬áCommission on Judicial Selection system to apply to full and interim terms of the District Court. First, it extends the District Court judge’s term in office to 8 years. Second, it eliminates the Governor’s role entirely. Third, when any vacancy occurs the Commission would submit a list of names to the legislature’s lower chamber (Assembly) for selection. Given that the legislature does not meet in even-numbered years, the Assembly would have the power to convene itself out-of-session to handle the judicial appointments. Fourth, when judges completed their 8 year terms, they would not have to face voters; instead they would be required to resubmit their names to the Commission for review. The judges would not be guaranteed to be among the three names submitted by the Commission to the Assembly and the Assembly would not be required to automatically reappoint them.

AJR 9 has been assigned to the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.

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