Election 2016: Arkansas Issue 1 – Most states elect their general jurisdiction court clerks and they typically serve 4-6 years

I mentioned in the last post on Arkansas Issue 1 that most states elect the clerks of their general jurisdiction courts. In all, a total of 32 states have elected clerks. In 27 states all the clerks are elected. In 4 others (Nevada, Missouri, New York, and Washington) most clerks are elected; in select counties/independent cities the clerk is chosen by the court. Finally 1 state (North Dakota) uses a mixed approach of election (13 counties), court-appointment (14 counties), and selection by the county commission (26 counties).

The remaining 18 states make use of appointment/hired clerks of court for their general jurisdiction courts. It should be noted, however, that some of these states started originally with elected clerks and/or switched from appointed to elected and back again. For example under Delaware’s 1897 Constitution the Prothonotary of each County was ex officio Clerk of the Superior Court and elected. That changed in 1989 when SB 109 was adopted by the state’s legislature (Delaware doesn’t require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters) making the position appointive.

The Superior Court shall appoint a Prothonotary in each county to hold office at the pleasure of the said Court.

All existing elected clerks were allowed to remain in office.

Of the states that have elected clerks, almost all have opted for 4 year terms, much like Issue 1 would do for Arkansas Circuit Clerks. Only 1 state (North Dakota) has a 2-year term for some elected clerks. 4 states (Alabama Circuit, Kentucky Circuit, Massachusetts Superior, and West Virginia Circuit) have 6 year terms.

Details below the fold.

State Court(s) Method of Selection Terms in Years
Alabama Circuit Elected 6
Alaska Superior Appointed n/a
Arizona Superior Elected 4
Arkansas Circuit Elected 2
California Superior Appointed n/a
Colorado District Appointed n/a
Connecticut Superior Appointed n/a
Delaware Court of Chancery & Superior Appointed n/a
Florida Circuit Elected 4
Georgia Superior Elected 4
Hawaii Circuit Appointed n/a
Idaho District Elected 4
Illinois Circuit Elected 4
Indiana Superior & Circuit Elected 4
Iowa District Appointed n/a
Kansas District Appointed n/a
Kentucky Circuit Elected 6
Louisiana District Elected 4
Maine Superior Appointed n/a
Maryland Circuit Elected 4
Massachusetts Superior Elected 6
Michigan Circuit Elected 4
Minnesota District Appointed n/a
Mississippi Circuit Elected 4
Missouri Circuit Elected generally, appointed in ~5 counties 4
Montana District Elected 4
Nebraska District Elected 4
Nevada District Elected generally, appointed in 1 independent city (Carson City) 4
New Hampshire Superior Appointed n/a
New Jersey Superior Appointed n/a
New Mexico District Appointed n/a
New York Supreme Elected generally, appointed in 5 counties (NYC) 4
North Carolina Superior Elected 4
North Dakota District Appointed generally (by court in 14 counties, by county commission in 26). Elected in only 13 counties. 2 or 4 years
Ohio Court of Common Pleas Elected 4
Oklahoma District Elected 4
Oregon Circuit Appointed n/a
Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Elected 4
Rhode Island Superior Appointed n/a
South Carolina Circuit Elected 4
South Dakota Circuit Appointed n/a
Tennessee Circuit Elected 4
Texas District Elected 4
Utah District Appointed n/a
Vermont Superior Appointed n/a
Virginia Circuit Elected 4
Washington Superior Elected generally, appointed in 4 counties by court (1) or county commission (3) 4
West Virginia Circuit Elected 6
Wisconsin Circuit Elected 4
Wyoming District Elected 4