Judicial nominating commissions are a, if no the, defining element of merit selection systems such as the one in New Mexico. Many states simply establish that the funds for the commissions will be provided by the legislature to the judicial branch. For example, Colorado’s C.R.S. 13-3-103(2) reads,
The mileage and expenses incurred by members of judicial nominating commissions and members of the commission on judicial discipline shall be paid from funds appropriated to the judicial department of the state. Each commission member shall keep an account of the mileage and all moneys actually paid out for personal maintenance expenses and shall file a verified itemized statement thereof with the court administrator, who shall audit the same and submit it to the state controller. The state controller shall draw a warrant therefor, which warrant shall be paid by the state treasurer out of the appropriate fund.
New Mexico, however, is considering creation of a special fund to pay for that state’s judicial nominating commissions. SB 24 would put the new fund under the administrative control of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. A key element would be that money in the new fund would not revert to the state’s general fund every year, but would be subject to appropriation by the legislature. In addition, SB 28 appropriates $50,000 to the fund for FY 2012 to start the new fund off.
The bill has been prefiled in anticipation of the January 17 start of the New Mexico legislature’s 2012 session.