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Judicial selection in Wyoming

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Wyoming
Seal of Wyoming.png
Wyoming Supreme Court
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   8 years
Wyoming District Courts
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   6 years
Wyoming Circuit Courts
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   4 years

Selection of state court judges in Wyoming occurs primarily through merit selection, specifically the commission-selection, political appointment method. Newly appointed judges serve short initial terms of at least one year, after which they must run in yes-no retention elections if they wish to continue serving. Subsequent terms are longer.[1]

Under the Wyoming Constitution, the terms of retained judges begin on the first Monday in January following the general election.[2]

Supreme and District Court

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

The 5 justices of the supreme court and the 22 judges of the district courts are selected in an identical manner. When a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement from a list of three names provided by a nominating commission. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they must stand for retention in the next general election. Subsequent terms last eight years for supreme court justices and six years for district court judges.[1][3]

Selection of the chief justice

The chief justice of the supreme court is selected by peer vote, serving in that capacity for four years.[1]

Qualifications

To serve on the supreme court, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident for at least 3 years;
  • practiced in law for at least 9 years;
  • no younger than 30 years old; and
  • no older than 70.*[1]

To serve on the district court a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident for at least 2 years;
  • no younger than 28 years old; and
  • no older than 70.*

*Immediate retirement is mandatory for sitting judges who reach the age of 70 while in office. While a proposal appeared on the 2013 statewide ballot to do away with the mandatory retirement age, the amendment did not pass.[4] See also on Ballotpedia: Wyoming Mandatory Judicial Retirement Amendment (2014)

Retention rates

Since 1972, only five judges have not won retention.[5]

Limited jurisdiction courts

Wyoming's limited jurisdiction courts (the circuit courts and municipal courts) vary in their selection processes and qualifications:

Circuit courts

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

Judges of the Wyoming Circuit Courts are chosen through the same merit selection process used to select appellate and district judges. When a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement from a list of three names provided by a nominating commission. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they must stand for retention in the next general election.[6] Subsequent terms last four years.[7]

Circuit judges must be state bar members and qualified electors of the state.[6]

Municipal courts

See also: Political appointment of judges

Judges of the Wyoming Municipal Courts are appointed by the mayor of the municipality and confirmed by the council. Term lengths vary. A law degree is not required, but all municipal judges must be qualified electors in the state.[8][6]

History

Selection methods in Wyoming have undergone several changes since the inception of the judiciary. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • 2000: The county court is renamed the circuit court. Its geographic boundaries are the same as those of the district court.
  • 1977: A merit selection plan is also established to county court (later known as circuit court) judges.
  • 1976: Confirmation by the judicial nominating commission is no longer required for judges seeking retention.
  • 1972: The constitution is amended to create the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Judicial Supervisory Commission (now known as the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics). The amendment also establishes a mandatory retirement age of 70.
  • 1890: Supreme court justices are elected by popular vote to eight-year terms, and district court judges are elected to six-year terms.[9]

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.[10]

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

WyomingWyoming Supreme CourtWyoming District CourtsWyoming Circuit CourtsWyoming Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of WyomingUnited States bankruptcy court, District of WyomingUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitWyoming countiesWyoming judicial newsWyoming judicial electionsJudicial selection in WyomingWyomingTemplate.jpg