As previously noted, on the ballot this November is Georgia’s Amendment 3. The amendment would repeal the existing Art. VI, Sec. 7, Para. 7 of the state constitution that establishes the state’s judicial disciplinary commission (Judicial Qualifications Commission) and readopt it with one major revision: membership of the JQC would be left to the legislature.
Amendment 3, and its implementing legislation (HB 808) would give the legislature two powers they don’t currently have:
- the ability to pick a majority of the JQC
- Senate confirmation for all picks (“Appointments to the Judicial Qualifications Commission shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate as provided for by general law.”) This will be discussed in a later blog post.
Under HB 808, the leaders of the Georgia legislature would be able to name 4 out of 7 members of the new JQC: 2 by the Speaker of the House and 2 by the President of the Senate. The Supreme Court (2) and Governor (1) would pick the rest.
Only a handful of states (9) give the legislature or legislative leaders the power to name members to the judicial disciplinary commission; a tenth (Oklahoma) lets the legislature pick 2 out of 3 members of a body that conducts preliminary investigations only (Council on Judicial Complaints).
Moreover, in 8 of those 9 states that allow for legislative picks, the legislature is only able to name a minority of the membership; only in Virginia does the legislature name a majority of members however it should be noted that in Virginia the legislature also appoints all judges (there are no elections and the governor has no role in judicial selection other than to fill temporary vacancies.
State by state details below the fold.
|State||Body||Chosen by Judges or Judges serving ex officio||Chosen by Lawyers/Bar||Chosen by Governor||Chosen by Legislature or Legislative Leaders
||Other||% Control by Legislature|
|North Carolina||Judicial Standards Commission||5||4||2||2||0||15%|
|New Hampshire||Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Conduct||5||2||2||2||0||18%|
|Arkansas||Judicial Discipline and Disability Committees||3||0||3||2||1 (Attorney General)||22%|
|Rhode Island||Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline||6||0||6||4||0||25%|
|California||Commission on Judicial Performance||3||0||4||4||0||36%|
|New York||Commission on Judicial Conduct||3||0||4||4||0||36%|
|Utah||Judicial Conduct Commission||4||0||3||4||0||36%|
|Tennessee||Board of Judicial Conduct||8||0||2||6||0||38%|
|Virginia||Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission||0||0||0||7||0||100%|