THE STATE JUDICIAL SELECTION PROCESS 1
The judiciary is tasked with the duty of administering justice basedon the Constitution of a country. The judiciary plays a crucial rolein providing solutions to conflicting parties, and assists inrestoring peace and relationships among them. The judges who serve inthe magistracy are selected based on the legislative requirements ofeach state. State laws provide the various procedures that should befollowed to ensure the region acquires qualified and competentindividuals to serve the citizens. The paper seeks to discuss thejudicial selection process in Florida and Georgia, compare andcontrast the two processes the steps followed in removing a judgefrom office for disciplinary reasons, and then identify and justifythe state with the best system in place.
SelectionProcess in Florida
The different courts within Florida include the Supreme Court, thedistrict courts of appeal, the circuit courts, and the countrycourts. The Supreme Court Judges and those of the district courts ofappeal are chosen through a merit selection process that involves anominating commission while circuit and county court judges areelected through non-partisan elections (Tarr, 2012). For anindividual to work in the Supreme and courts of appeal, he/she shouldhave qualified to vote and be a resident of Florida. They are alsorequired to have been practicing law in the Florida for ten years andbe under the age of 70 since once they attain 70years, it ismandatory for them to go to retirement. The qualifications forcircuit and county court judges are similar to those of the appellatecourts except instead of the ten years of law practice they are onlyrequired to have a five-year experience. Besides, for the countycourt judges, if the population of people within a county is 40,000or less, the five-year requirement is waived (Band, 2014).
The Supreme Court magistrates and those of Courts of Appeal areusually chosen in a similar manner. The appellate judges are selectedthrough a merit selection and retention process commonly referred toas the ‘Missouri Plan’. It entails screening of potentialcandidates by the judicial nominating commission to obtain 3-6nominees who are presented to the governor who then appoints a judgefrom the list of candidates (Band, 2014). After the judges haveserved for a minimum of one year, they are required to appear in ayes-no retention election that is conducted during the followinggeneral election to determine whether they should continue serving asjudges or they should be replaced. Those who pass the retentionelection get to serve for six years. Peer voting chooses theappellate court’s chief justice where he only serves for two years.The circuit and county court judges are elected through non-partisanelections where the names of candidates appear on the ballot paperwithout indicating their member parties. They serve for six years,and those who wish to retain their positions are required to run fora re-election.
SelectionProcess in Georgia
The courts found in the state of Georgia include the Supreme Court,Court of Appeals, Superior Courts and limited jurisdiction courtssuch as the probate, juvenile, magistrate and the state courts. Thequalifications of a Supreme Court and appellate judge are that he/shemust be a resident of the state with a minimum of seven years ofadmission to practice law. For one to serve in the superior courts,they must be a state resident of Georgia for three years, and of thecircuit, they wish to represent. They also need to be at least 30years old and admitted to practice law for at least seven years(Bruhl & Leib, 2012). To serve in the Probate court, the judgeshould be an American citizen be a resident for two years, above 25years old, a registered voter, possess a high school diploma or anequivalent having completed an original training course. Countieswhere the population of people is above 96,000, the judges should beat least 30 years and have a seven-year experience of practicing law.Juvenile court judges are required to have been a state resident fora minimum of three years, a resident of the county, 30 years old, andadmitted to practice law for five years. The magistrate court judgesare also required to be a county resident for a year, be 25 years andpossess a high school diploma or equivalent. Finally, state courtjudges should be a state resident for three years and a countyresident, be 25 years of age and practicing law for a minimum ofseven years (Bruhl & Leib, 2012).
The judiciary in Georgia is usually selected through voting innonpartisan elections, but when midterm vacancies arise, they arefilled by appointment. The Supreme Court judges, appellate judges,and the superior court judges are all chosen through nonpartisanelections. However, in the limited jurisdictions courts, probatejudges are elected through partisan elections while the high courtjudges appoint the juvenile judges. The Magistrate courts can eitherbe elected or selected through partisan elections while state courtjudges are elected as well.
Comparisonof the qualifications of potential judges in Florida and Georgia
Comparing the requirements necessary for a prospective candidate tobecome a Supreme Court judge in Florida and Georgia, it is evidentthat in both states, one must be a resident of their respectivestate. However, in Georgia, one must be practicing law for a minimumof seven years whereas, in Florida, an individual needs to havepracticed law for at least ten years. The state of Florida does notindicate the minimum age one should be to qualify to serve as a judgewithin the state (Band, 2014). It only states that the Supreme Courtjudges should be under 70 years old while in Georgia, most of thejudges serving in the judiciary are required to be at least 25 yearsof age while others should be 30 years of age. The justices of thelimited jurisdiction courts are also obliged to be country residentsfor at least a year in the case of magistrate judges and two yearsfor probate courts (Bruhl & Leib, 2012).
Removalof a judge
InFlorida, judges may be removed upon recommendation of the judicialqualifications commission whereby the Supreme Court implements thedisciplinary actions to eliminate a judge. Additionally, the House ofRepresentatives through voting whereby the required quota should betwo-thirds vote may impeach a judge. The impeached judge is thenconvicted by also a two-thirds vote of the Senate. The removalprocess in Georgia is also similar to that of Florida where the Houseof Representatives impeach the indiscipline judge, and the Senateconvicts him/her by a two-thirds vote. The primary difference is thatin Georgia, the Supreme Court must review the removal decisions madeby the judicial qualifications commission. It is essential to notethat each state has its judicial qualification commission that iscreated as per the state’s constitution. The committee conducts itsoperations as an independent organization, which allows it to promotethe integrity and credibility of the investigations they do towardsthe alleged misconduct of the Florida and Georgia state judges (Crew,2010).
TheBest Selection Process
The state with the best selection process is Florida. One of thereasons why Florida’s selection process is the best is that itpractices merit selection where the judicial nomination commissionreviews, screens potential candidates, and submits a list of nomineesto the governor for an appointment (Tarr, 2012). The approach isappropriate because it ensures that the individuals serving in thejudiciary meet the required qualifications, possess the skills,knowledge and ability to administer justice within the state. Anotherissue is politicization. The elections conducted in Georgia makes thejudicial system have high political interference that undermines therole of the judiciary because the winning candidates end up makingcourt rulings that are more inclined to the preferences of theirparties as opposed to the stipulated law. Therefore, instead ofconducting fair trials, favors shall be experienced within thejudicial system, which interferes with the maintenance of law andorder in a country. The Florida selection process is also the bestsystem because when the newly appointed judges serve for one year,they undergo the yes-no retention election to determine whether theyshould continue working as justices of the state (Crew, 2010). Thesystem allows judges in Florida to remain committed to performingtheir tasks because failure to deliver implies that they shall not beretained. However, in Georgia, when the judges are elected, theyserve the entire term without the public reviewing their performance.
It is evident that the judicial selection process varies across theAmerican states because of the nature of the court system. Floridapractices the merit selection process while Georgia practices thepartisan and nonpartisan elections to select their judges. In bothstates, a judge can be removed from office for disciplinary reasonsupon the recommendation of the judicial qualification commission,impeachment and conviction of the House of Representatives and theSenate respectively. Florida is considered to have the best selectionprocess because of less politicization, allows review of performance,and ensures qualified individuals serve in the courts.
Band, M. R. (2014). Judicial Nominating Procedures. Florida BarJournal, 88(6), 56-57.
Bruhl, A. P., & Leib, E. J. (2012). Elected Judges and StatutoryInterpretation. University of Chicago Law Review, 79(4),1215-1283.
Crew, R. E. (2010). Jeb Bush: Aggressive conservatism in Florida.Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Tarr, G. (2012). Without Fear or Favor: Judicial Independence andJudicial Accountability in the States. Palo Alto: StanfordUniversity Press.