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Judicial selection in Nebraska

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Nebraska
Seal of Nebraska.png
Nebraska Supreme Court
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Nebraska Court of Appeals
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Nebraska District Courts
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Nebraska County Courts
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years

Selection of state court judges in Nebraska occurs exclusively through merit selection, specifically the commission-selection, political appointment method. Appointed judges serve for three years, after which they must run for retention during the next general election if they wish to continue serving. Subsequent terms last six years.[1][2]

Selection of judges

See also: Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection

The 7 justices of the Nebraska Supreme Court, the 6 judges of the Nebraska Court of Appeals and the 55 judges of the Nebraska District Courts are all appointed by the governor with help from a nominating commission. When a vacancy occurs on one of the courts, a judicial nominating commission submits the names of at least two qualified candidates to the governor, who appoints one to fill the vacancy. If the governor fails to appoint a candidate within sixty days, the chief justice of the supreme court is authorized to select a new judge.[1][3]

Judges serve initial terms of 3 years, at which point they must run in yes-no retention elections occurring during the next general election. Subsequent terms last 6 years. To learn more about these retention elections, visit Judgepedia's Nebraska judicial elections page.[1]

Selection of the chief justice or judge

Each level of court uses a different method for selecting their chief justice or judge:

  • The chief justice of the supreme court is chosen like any other judge through gubernatorial appointment and serves in that capacity for the duration of his or her service.
  • The chief judge of the court of appeals is selected by peer vote with supreme court approval.
  • The chief judge of each district court is chosen by peer vote.[1]

Qualifications

Judicial qualifications vary by court level.[1]

Supreme Court

To serve on the Nebraska Supreme Court, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident for more than 3 years;
  • a resident of the district he or she represents;
  • over the age of 30;
  • experienced with more than 5 years of state practice; and
  • a state bar member.[1]

Court of Appeals and District Courts

To serve on the Nebraska Court of Appeals or one of the Nebraska District Courts, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident;
  • a resident of the district he or she represents (for district judges);
  • over the age of 30;
  • experienced with more than 5 years of state practice; and
  • a state bar member.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

See also: Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection

While Nebraska's limited jurisdiction courts (the county courts, separate juvenile courts and workers' compensation courts) all select their judges by merit selection, the qualifications of the courts vary:[4]

County Court Juvenile Court Workers' Compensation Court
Selection: Comm. select., Gov. appt. Comm. select., Gov. appt. Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term: 6 years[5] 6 years[5] 6 years[6][5]
Re-election method: Retention Retention Retention
Qualifications: U.S. citizen; district resident; over the age of 30; more than 5 years of state practice; state bar member U.S. citizen; over the age of 30; more than 5 years of state practice; state bar member U.S. citizen; over the age of 30; more than 5 years of state practice; state bar member

History

Judicial selection methods in Nebraska have undergone significant changes since the inception of the judiciary. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • 1990: The Nebraska Court of Appeals is created, beginning operations in 1991. Judges are chosen through commission-selection, political appointment and must stand for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment. Subsequent terms last six years.
  • 1974: Nebraska County Courts judges are now also chosen through merit selection. Judges are to stand for retention during the next general election held more than three years after their appointment. Subsequent terms last six years.
  • 1962: The Nebraska Supreme Court and Nebraska District Courts adopt the merit selection method. Judges are to stand for retention during the next general election held more than three years after their appointment. Subsequent terms last six years.
  • 1920: Tenure of county court judges is increased to four years.
  • 1909: The Nebraska Legislature adopts the Nonpartisan Judiciary Act, prohibiting judicial candidates from being "nominated, endorsed, criticized, or referred to in any manner by any political party, convention, or primary." Finding this in violation of First Amendment rights, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in State ex rel. Ragan v. Junkin 122 N.W. 473.
  • 1875: District court judges are elected by popular vote to four-year terms; county court judges are elected to two-year terms.
  • 1866: Justices of the supreme court are elected by popular vote to six-year terms. District courts are convened by the supreme court justices.[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

NebraskaNebraska Supreme CourtNebraska Court of AppealsNebraska District CourtsNebraska County CourtsNebraska Separate Juvenile CourtsNebraska Workers' Compensation CourtNebraska Workers' Compensation CourtNebraska Problem-Solving CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of NebraskaUnited States bankruptcy court, District of NebraskaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eighth CircuitNebraska countiesNebraska judicial newsNebraska judicial electionsJudicial selection in NebraskaNebraskaTemplate.jpg