Nevada judges would be appointed under amendment
April 8, 2019
Lawmakers next week will consider a constitutional amendment that would remove judges from the ranks of elected officials in Nevada.
AJR9 is set for review by the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on Tuesday. Under the proposed amendment, the governor would appoint judges from a list of three candidates presented by a judicial selection commission. The plan would apply to Supreme Court, Appellate Court and district judges in the state.
But the proposal modeled after a Delaware system goes much farther than that. It would also term limit those judges to no more than four, six year terms in office and subject them to periodic performance reviews by a Commission on Judicial Performance. That review would look at a variety of factors including knowledge of the law, communication skills, judicial temperament and work ethic.
The language prohibits the commission from considering the judge's political affiliation.
After the review closest to the expiration of a judge's term in office, the members of that commission would vote "on the question of whether the commission recommends that the justice or judge succeed himself or herself."
If that judge gets 13 or more votes from the 17-member commission, they would automatically get another six-year term.
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If the judge gets nine to 12 votes, he or she would be able to seek reappointment but it wouldn't be automatic.
But if the judge gets less than nine votes, he or she would be ineligible for reappointment to the bench.
If approved, the system would go into effect Jan. 1, 2026.
The proposal is significantly different from the Missouri Plan, which selects judges through a hybrid system.
Under that system, also known as the merit plan, a non-partisan commission reviews candidates for a judicial post and sends a short list of those best qualified to the governor who has 60 days to appoint one of them.
But one year after that appointment, the judge must face a retention election. If a majority of the public votes against retention, the judge is removed from office and the process starts over. If the majority is in favor, the judge serves his or her full term.
At present, all Nevada district judges are elected by the voters in their county. Appellate and Supreme Court justices are elected statewide. The governor appoints judges and justices to fill vacancies from candidates selected by the judicial selection commission but those appointees must face the voters in the next general election.
Nevada doesn't currently have term limits on judges.