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Judicial selection in Michigan

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Michigan
Seal of Michigan.png
Michigan Supreme Court
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   8 years
Michigan Court of Appeals
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Michigan Circuit Courts
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Michigan District Courts
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Michigan Probate Courts
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

Selection of state court judges in Michigan occurs through non-partisan elections. All judges wishing to serve again must run for re-election at the end of their terms.[1]

Under the Michigan Constitution, judges' terms begin on January 1 following their election.

Supreme Court

See also: Non-partisan election of judges

The seven justices of the Michigan Supreme Court are chosen in non-partisan elections. They serve eight-year terms and must be re-elected if they wish to continue serving.[1] For more information on these elections, visit Judgepedia's Michigan judicial elections page.

Incumbent judges seeking re-election may file an affidavit of candidacy requesting to be placed on the ballot, while non-incumbent candidates must either file a nominating petition or obtain partisan nomination at a party convention. Incumbency is noted on the ballot, though party affiliation is not.[1]

Selection of the chief justice

The chief justice of the court serves a two-year term and is elected by his or her fellow justices.[1]

Vacancies

In the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a temporary replacement to serve until the next general election. At the governor's request, the state bar's standing committee on judicial qualifications interviews, evaluates, and rates all candidates, submitting a confidential report to the governor.[1]

Qualifications

In order to be elected to this court, a judge must:

  • be a qualified elector;
  • be licensed to practice law in the state;
  • have at least 5 years of law practice experience;
  • be under the age of 70.[1]

Sitting judges who reach age 70 are allowed to serve out the remainder of their term.[2]

Court of Appeals and Circuit Court

See also: Non-partisan election of judges

The 28 judges of the Michigan Court of Appeals and the 221 judges of the Michigan Circuit Courts are selected in an identical manner, each serving six-year terms. Like the supreme court justices, they are chosen in non-partisan elections and must face re-election if they wish to continue serving. Unlike the supreme court, however, candidates are placed on the ballot via nonpartisan primaries or by nominating petitions.[1]

Selection of the chief judge

The chief judges of the appeals and circuit courts are selected by supreme court appointment to terms lasting two years.[1]

Qualifications

To be elected to either of these courts, a judge must:

  • be a qualified elector of his or her district;
  • be licensed to practice law in the state;
  • have at least 5 years of law practice experience;
  • be under the age of 70.[1]

Sitting judges who reach age 70 are allowed to serve out the remainder of their term.[2]

Vacancies

The process for filling vacancies on the appeals and circuit courts is identical to that used by the supreme court. With the assistance of the judicial qualifications committee, the governor names a replacement to serve until the next general election.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

See also: Non-partisan election of judges

Michigan's limited jurisdiction courts (the district courts, probate courts and municipal courts) vary in their selection processes:[3]

District Court Probate Court Juvenile Court
Selection: Non-partisan elections Non-partisan elections Non-partisan elections
Term: 6 years[4] 6 years[5] 4 years[6]
Re-election method: Re-election Re-election Re-election
Qualifications: qualified elector of district; licensed to practice law in the state; 5 years of law practice experience; under the age of 70 when elected qualified elector of district; licensed to practice law in the state; 5 years of law practice experience; under the age of 70 when elected qualified elector of municipality; licensed to practice law in the state; under the age of 70 when elected

History

Judicial selection methods in Michigan have undergone several changes in the last two centuries. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • 1996: A new constitutional amendment requires judges to have at least five years of law practice experience.
  • 1968: The governor's power to fill judicial vacancies is restored. Additionally, incumbency is designated on the ballot for all judges.
  • 1963: A constitutional amendment instates the following changes:
    • The Michigan Court of Appeals is created.
    • Judicial vacancies are filled by special election.
    • The chief justice is selected by the court rather than by voters.
    • Only elected judges are designated as incumbents on the ballot.
    • Incumbent judges may bypass the nomination process by filing an affidavit of candidacy.
  • 1939: A constitutional amendment calls for nonpartisan nomination and election of judges (except for supreme court justices, who continue to be nominated at party conventions).
  • 1908: Under a new law passed by the state legislature, political parties may nominate supreme court candidates at party conventions.
  • 1850: Supreme court justices are elected by popular vote to eight-year terms. Tenure of circuit court judges is reduced to four years.
  • 1836: Supreme court justices are appointed by the governor with senate consent to seven-year terms. Circuit court judges are elected by popular vote to four-year terms.[7]

Selection of federal judges

United States District Court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process than that of state judges.

The district courts are served by Article III federal judges who are appointed for life, during "good behavior." They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States of America nominates judges, who must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.[8]

Step ApprovedA Candidacy Proceeds DefeatedD Candidacy Halts
1. Recommendation made by Congress member to the President President nominates to Senate Judiciary Committee President declines nomination
2. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews candidate Sends candidate to Senate for confirmation Returns candidate to President, who may re-nominate to committee
3. Senate votes on candidate confirmation Candidate becomes federal judge Candidate does not receive judgeship

See also

External links

References

MichiganMichigan Supreme CourtMichigan Court of AppealsMichigan Circuit CourtMichigan District CourtsMichigan Probate CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of MichiganUnited States District Court for the Western District of MichiganUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of MichiganUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of MichiganUnited States Court of Appeals for the Sixth CircuitMichigan countiesMichigan judicial newsMichigan judicial electionsJudicial selection in MichiganMichiganTemplate.jpg