Mississippi has seven different types of courts. Five of these use nonpartisan elections (Supreme, Appeal, Circuit, Chancery, County), one uses a straight appointment (Municipal) and one continues to use partisan elections (Justice). Currently, the state’s legislature is considering several bills that take entirely different courses of action for these judicial races.
HB 304 and HB 409 would change Justice Court races, along with those for chancery clerk, circuit clerk, and all other county offices, into nonpartisan races.
HB 460 and HB 494 on the other hand would convert all nonpartisan judicial elections into partisan ones.
Meanwhile, HCR 22 would change the Supreme Court into a modified appointment system. Under the constitutional amendment, justices would be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. After serving their full term, they would be subject to a yes/no retention election.
It remains to be seen what changes, if any, the legislature opts to make.
Issue 4:4 is out. You can read it here.
Issue 4:3 is out. You can read it here.
On January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The decision may be found here.
Citizens United, along with the Caperton case from 2009, may very well alter the playing field for judicial campaigns for decades to come. While several state courts of last resort have attempted to address issues through the judicial canons, the state legislatures have not been idle. This special edition of Gavel to Gavel looks at the legislation introduced in 2009 and thus far in 2010 that contend with Judicial Campaign Contributions and Expenditures.
The Special Edition can be found here.
Gavel to Gavel issue 4:2 features:
-Focus: Special funds for courts created in 2009 – their purposes and the sources for their revenues.
-Arizona’s Senate considers a bill making it an impeachable offense for judges to reference foreign laws or make use of sharia law, canon law, or “karma”.
-Committees of Indiana’s House and Senate approve legislation that a Circuit Court Clerk is not personally liable for acts or omissions in the performance of the clerk’s duties absent gross negligence or intentional disregard of the responsibilities of the office of clerk.
Read it all here.
Gavel to Gavel Issue 4:1 includes:
-Mississippi considers nonpartisan elections for Justice Court judges, currently the only jurists in the state that have to run in a partisan election.
-Indiana debates whether to require City and Town Court judges be admitted to the bar, a requirement for all other courts in the state.
Read it all here.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. contended with the issue of recusal and when a jurist’s refusal to do so was a due process violation. Coupled with the recent update to the ABA Mode Code of Judicial Conduct, several state judiciaries have begun to examine or reexamine their recusal standards.
State legislatures have not been idle either. At least 17 states have examined issues surrounding the disqualification of judges from sitting on cases due to contributions to their campaigns or for other reasons. This special edition of Gavel to Gavel examines the legislation, sorted by what stage in the legislative process the bills reached as of July 2009.