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election survey: judicial races

Election survey: judicial races

Questions:

Do judges in your state run for their positions or are they appointed?
If they are elected into position, do they run on party lines?
Do you actually look in to the backgrounds of judges before you vote in a judicial race or do you just vote with your party?
Do you even care about the judicial races?

(If you live in New York you can ignore the first two questions)

Just doing some quick research for something I am writing for The Weblog Action Center.

Thanks in advance for your participation. There's a lovely door prize waiting for you as you exit.

Comments

Here in the no-where-land called South Dakota, circuit court judges are voted in, the rest are appointed. I believe they run on party lines (but I am not 100% positive on this). I can't say that I look into their backgrounds before voting, but I do try to vote for judges that I have heard positive feed-back about, or not vote for ones I have heard things about on which I disagree with them. Wow, pardon the bad grammer. And, yes, I think all elections are important. Anyway, there's my 2 cents worth.

In California, judges are appointed, but they face non partisan retention elections every 4 years. That is, the voters decide only if the judge keeps the position. If the judge loses the election, a new judge must be appointed. At least, I think that is how it still works here.

Fl judges are appointed, but we have a periodic change to vote them out. "Shall so and so of such and such court be retained in office."

I kinda like that. If they are blatantly stupid, we can dump 'em.

KY has (officially) nonpartisan elections for judgeships - from lowly magistrates all the way up to the Supreme Court. Insofar as I am a practicing attorney here, I make sure I know where a certain judge stands on a number of critical points before I vote for retention, but most people don't bother and just vote on name recognition (or so it seems to me).

Personally, I don't care for the practice of electing judges. I much prefer that they be removed a step or two from the electoral process (as federal judges are) to remove the chance that they will allow electoral concerns to influence their decisions on the bench.

Here in Arkansas, judges are elected unless their's a vacancy mid-term. Then an interim judge is appointed for the remainder of the term; however the appointee cannot run for election for the position to which he was appointed. He can run for a different judgeship though.
Judges used to declare a political party, though I believe that has now been changed. I do check backgrounds as much as possible, but judges are not permitted to say much while campaigning so that can be difficult. I don't usually vote along party lines in any race, but for the candidate that I think will do the best job.
I care about judicial races a great deal, but then I'm an attorney. Prior to becoming an attorney, I'd have to say I only cared if I happened to know the candidate or his record.

Sorry, I should've proofread better. I meant to spell "their's" as "there's" in the first sentence. I hate it when that happens.

In Ohio our judges are elected. Unfortunately this year, as well as two years ago, our Supreme Court (highest state court) has made national news for the amount of mud slinging and special interest money.

Parties: There is a primary in May where the voters choose one candidate for each party. Registered republicans only receive a republican ballot and registered democrats only receive a democratic ballot. Independants, libertarians or other parties only get to vote on the issues, not for the partisan candidates. In November, the judges are not listed by their parties. However, throughout the campaign process, it is clear from which party each candidate hails.

Backgrounds: damn straight I do research. I do have it a little easier because I am a lawyer and magistrate. I work for a judge and know many of the candidates. I never vote straight party lines; I vote for the person who will best fulfill the office, in my opinion. My new husband often relies on me and my knowledge of the candidates to help him cast his vote.

I always care about the elections, and not just because my job depends on it. Ohio's Supreme Court race is a very important one. We've had many 4 to 3 decisions that may change if the composition of the court changes.

It appears that other people who work in the courthouse are up on the issues and research not only candidates but ballot issues. However, some people only vote party line but these people seem fewer and fewer each year.

Probably more info than you need! Hope it helps.

Arizona is like California. Our judges are appointed, then face retention elections. The elections are non-partisan. There's rarely any information on who the judges are or what they do; so most people vote based on nothing more than name recognition.

Pennsylvania's Judges are elected or face retention elections, I can't remember which. At any rate, local District Justices are elected.

It's difficult to pay much attention without doing serious digging, as most people just vote along party lines and don't care, so the demand for coverage of these races is really low.

I try to follow them as best I can -- we have some real bastiches in our county, and they've been incumbent for some time now.

Maryland:

Higher level judges are appointed (I guess)

Local judges (county level) are elected.

The candidates are identifed by party, but it seems more than that, by incumbency.

Rarely do I know enough to cast informed votes, the candidates are just names, and often unopposed. Occasionally someone will get a few stories about something controversial, I try to remember what I think so I can vote for/against that person. One local incumbent seems to have bothered a lot of the local law types with his seeming incompetence, he may merit a thumbs-down.

Maryland:

Higher level judges are appointed (I guess)

Local judges (county level) are elected.

The candidates are identifed by party, but it seems more than that, by incumbency.

Rarely do I know enough to cast informed votes, the candidates are just names, and often unopposed. Occasionally someone will get a few stories about something controversial, I try to remember what I think so I can vote for/against that person. One local incumbent seems to have bothered a lot of the local law types with his seeming incompetence, he may merit a thumbs-down.

Maine: Probate judges party affiliated and elected.
District, Superior and Supreme's nominated by the Guv and ratified by the Legislature. Terms vary and re-appointment or elevation is pretty much a given.

In Oklahoma, there are two courts at the top: the Court of Criminal Appeals rules over the criminal-justice system, and civil matters are dealt with by the Supreme Court. No, I don't know why they do it this way. There is one in-between court: the Court of Civil Appeals. Judges for all these courts are appointed by the governor, under the advice and consent of a nominating board, and serve six years, then must face a retention ballot. The lower District Courts are elected directly, are nonpartisan, and face a retention ballot every four years.

I usually vote for retention unless there is scandal attached to the judge's name.

Delaware judges are all appointed by the Governor, with Senate confirmation. They serve terms and must re-apply for appointment and re-confirmation.
On a few rare occasions, the re-appointment doesn't happen. When that happens, there is always a story involved that many, many lawyers know, but not too many other folks are in on the reason.
BR, Fritz/f

In Illinois we go through a ridiculous process of voting yes or no for the sitting judges. A complete waste of time and usually results in spoiled ballots. In 2000 Cook County, where I live, had 150,000 overvotes because we use the butterfly ballot and we do that because of all the judges. I usually skip them.

I didn't realize you were blogging for the WAC. I am as well and probably owe them a post since it's been a couple of days.

FWIW, I think the Framers got it right: appoint judges for life and impeach them if you don't like them.

North Caroline: Judges elected; like a lot of post-reconstruction state governments, NC's is deliberately set up to minimize the chance of Republicans getting a majority in any elected position, including judgeships. This has led to some real winners, like the judge in Greensboro who let the Mexican illegal immigrant accused of murder go free on $15,000 bail ($1500 posted bond)... because asking for more would be unfair. Of course, no one ever heard from him again.

In Oklahoma, there is also, at the district court level, a position called "special district judge." They are appointed by the head district court judge, as I understand it, and never face re-election. They are limited to certain types of cases, though I'm not really clear on the extent of the limitation. In the Oklahoma county in which I practice, the special judge seems to primarily do criminal arraignments, child support enforcement, and juvenile cases that the other judges can't because of a conflict.
To clarify cghill's post, it is correct that criminal appeals go to the Court of Criminal Appeals; civil appeals go to the Court of Civil Appeals. Both, however, can then apply to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for an appeal of their respective Court of Appeal's ruling.

I'm another Noo Yawker, so you know that we elect our lower-court judges. As far as evaluating them for election is concerned, I look first and foremost for depth and breadth of experience; ideology is next (which usually becomes apparent in ads and mailings).

Party doesn't play all that much of a part, although experience has shown me that GOP judges show less of a tendency to "legislate from the bench," as it were, which is a plus for me.

The only party issue that's a dealbreaker for me is this: I will not vote for a judge that accepts the endorsement of the Right to Life party. And it's not even a pro-choice/pro-life matter; no judge will get my vote who shows such a cavalier attitude toward deciding court matters before they even reach the bench.

Pennsylvania has both partisan competitive elections and non-partisan retention elections. Forget who gets what kind. I think maybe the judges who get elected to vacancies in partisan elections then face retention elections (which, IIRC, never result in recall).