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|
|Delaware||Court of Chancery & Superior||Appointed||n/a|
|Indiana||Superior & Circuit||Elected||4|
|Missouri||Circuit||Elected generally, appointed in ~5 counties||4|
|Nevada||District||Elected generally, appointed in 1 independent city (Carson City)||4|
|New York||Supreme||Elected generally, appointed in 5 counties (NYC)||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|
|Pennsylvania||Court of Common Pleas||Elected||4|
|Washington||Superior||Elected generally, appointed in 4 counties by court (1) or county commission (3)||4|