New York judicial elections
Judges in New York are chosen in partisan elections. Judicial elections in the state take place every year. Unlike other states, New York's judicial races may include candidates running for election under multiple party designations. Candidates are allowed to cross-file to run for office under more than one party designation and may receive endorsements from each.
Closed primary elections are held to allow members of political parties to select their respective candidates. The candidate who wins the Democratic primary, for example, will go on to be the Democratic nominee in the general election. Independent candidates may also run in the general election, bypassing the primary. If a candidate cross-files, they could run in the general election as Democratic party candidate, as well as a candidate for one or more other parties.
According to statute, candidates for the supreme courts are chosen indirectly through delegates. Voters elect convention delegates in the primary election and the delegates choose the supreme court candidates who will be on the general election ballot.
Terms for all judges in the state of New York begin on January 1 of the year following their election to office. Their terms end on December 31 of the year their terms are set to expire. The lengths of terms for various courts throughout the state are listed below.
Trial courts of superior jurisdiction
|Supreme Court||County Courts||Family Courts||Surrogate's Courts|
|Partisan elections - 14-year terms||Partisan elections - 10-year terms||Partisan elections - 10-year terms||Partisan elections - 10-year terms|
Trial courts of limited jurisdiction
|District Courts||City/Village Courts||Civil Court of New York City|
|Partisan elections - 6 year terms||Partisan elections or appointed - 10-year terms (full-time) or 6-year terms (part-time)||Partisan elections - 10-year terms|
Results for state supreme court elections can be found on the New York State Board of Elections website. New York City judicial election results are posted on the City of New York's Board of Elections website. Results for other judicial elections in the state of New York can be found on county websites or in newspapers.
Election information by year
- New York judicial elections, 2014
- New York judicial elections, 2013
- New York judicial elections, 2012
- New York judicial elections, 2011
- New York judicial elections, 2010
- Justices of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division are selected by the Governor from among the current judges serving on the supreme court. Judges must first be elected to the supreme court to be eligible to serve in the appellate division.
No primary necessary to elect state judges (2008)Supreme Court of the United States (NY Board of Elections v. Lopez-Torres, 06-766)
Since 1921, New York has selected its nominees for state trial court justices by party convention, a process by which political delegates choose judicial candidates, whose names then automatically appear on the general-election ballot. In order to become a state delegate, one must obtain and submit 500 signatures from registered party voters. New York is one of the only states to abide by such an election process for trial court judges.
In 2004, Lopez Torres, a former judge, along with other judicial candidates who were unable to secure party nominations, filed suit against the New York Board of Elections, alleging that New York’s judicial election system served as a burden upon the First Amendment right of association of those who sought to challenge nominees chosen by party leadership. The federal trial court issued an injunction against New York’s election laws in 2006, and the Second Circuit later affirmed the decision the same year, observing that the First Amendment ensured the plaintiffs a "realistic opportunity to particulate in [a political party’s] nominating process, and to do so free from burdens that are both severe and unnecessary."
Following an argument on October 3, 2007, the decision of the Second Circuit was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito. Justice Stevens filed a separate concurrence, and was joined by Justice Souter. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment, and was joined by Justice Breyer as to Part II of his opinion only. In the Court’s opinion, Justice Scalia wrote that New York’s political process for nominating and electing state trial court judges did not violate the tenets of the First Amendment, citing the fact that there was no such thing as "an individual’s constitutional right to have a 'fair shot' at winning the party’s nomination."
As noted in Justice Scalia’s conclusion, the Court chose to uphold New York’s unique judicial election system:
|“||New York State has thrice (in 1846, 1911, and 1921) displayed a willingness to reconsider its method of selecting Supreme Court Justices. If it wishes to return to the primary system that it discarded in 1921, it is free to do so; but the First Amendment does not compel that.||”|
- The New York State Unified Court System website releases a voter guide two weeks before each year's general election.
- New York State Judicial Candidate Voter Guide
- New York State Unified Court System - Judicial Campaign Ethics Center
- New York City Bar - Judicial Selection Methods in the State of New York, March 2014
- NYC Board of Elections: Guide to NYC Elections
- American Judicature Society, "Judicial Selection in the States: New York," accessed May 23, 2014
- New York Board of Elections, "2014 Election Law," accessed May 23, 2014
- Family court judges serving in New York City are appointed to 10-year terms by the Mayor of New York City.
- Surrogate's court judges in all New York City counties are elected to 14-year terms.
- www.nycourts.gov, "New York State Judicial Voter Guide Home," accessed April 29, 2014
- Housing part judges are appointed to 5-year terms by the chief administrative judge.
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: New York," archived March 8, 2013
- SCOTUSblog, "No need for primary to pick judges," January 16, 2008
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.