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Monday, January 28, 2013

Ind. Courts - Kansas legislature may consider changes to its Missouri Plan-type method of judicial selection

John Hanna of the AP has a long analysis today, here as published in the Columbus Republic, headed "GOP conservatives push for overhaul of Kan. judicial selection but face big obstacle." A few quotes from the lengthy report:

TOPEKA, Kansas — Conservative Republican legislators are pushing aggressively for an overhaul of how Kansas fills vacancies on its two highest courts, but they face significant obstacles in getting a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

Some GOP lawmakers have argued for almost a decade that the current system of having an attorney-led nominating commission screen applications for the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court is biased against conservatives. They've been frustrated with court decisions ordering the state to increase spending on public schools, and abortion opponents view the courts as too liberal on that issue. Conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback also is pushing for change.

What about Indiana? In Indiana two proposed constitutional amendments, SJR 6 (Sen. Delph) and SJR 19 (Sen. Young), have been introduced.
SJR 6 Digest: Supreme court and court of appeals judges. Provides that the governor fills vacancies on the supreme court and the court of appeals, subject to the approval of the senate. Provides that a justice of the supreme court or judge of the court of appeals is retained in office only if the justice or judge receives at least 67% of the total number of votes cast on the question of retention of the justice or judge. Provides that a law, judicial rule, decree, or order may not abridge the freedom of a judge, lawyer, candidate for judicial office, or any other person from: (1) speaking, writing, or otherwise expressing the person's views freely regarding a political issue, political party, or candidate for office, including a candidate for a judicial office; or (2) making a donation of money, services, or property to a political party or a candidate for office, including a candidate for a judicial office. Makes stylistic changes.

SJR 19 Digest: Selection of justices and appellate court judges. Renames the judicial nominating commission as the commission on judicial nominations and qualifications. Provides that one commission member is selected by attorneys licensed in Indiana, one commission member is appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, and one commission member is appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate. Requires that at least one commission member appointed by the governor must be an attorney. Prohibits a person who is a lobbyist from serving on the commission. Provides for the governor to fill a vacancy on the supreme court or the court of appeals from nominees recommended by the commission, subject to confirmation by the senate. Provides that a justice of the supreme court and a judge of the court of appeals serves until July 1 of the tenth year after the justice's or judge's appointment is confirmed by the senate or the justice's or judge's retention in office is confirmed by the senate. Provides that if a justice or judge wants to serve a new term, the justice or judge must apply to the senate for retention. Specifies that a judge or justice will be retained, unless: (1) the judge or justice does not apply to the senate for retention; or (2) at least 60% of the members of the senate vote against retention. Amends the provisions concerning impeachment proceedings for a justice or judge. Provides a transition for justices and judges serving at the time of the adoption of these amendments to the constitution. This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 28, 2013 09:36 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts