« Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two Indiana cases today | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today »

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Changes to merit selection commissions advance in Indiana & South Dakota"

The blog Gavel to Gavel, which reviews state legislation affecting the courts, reported today:

Merit selection commissions may very well be changed in both Indiana and South Dakota in the coming days, but the South Dakota measure change may have little to do with animus

Indiana’s SB 103 changes that state’s Judicial Nominating Commission. Presently, the Commission is made up

  • the Chief Justice (as chair)
  • 3 nonattorneys picked by the governor (1 per Court of Appeals district)
  • 3 attorney elected by the attorneys of the state (1 per Court of Appeals District)
Under SB 103 the governor would no longer be free to pick any nonattorney from a given Court of Appeals District. Instead, the 4 legislative leaders (House: Speaker & Minority leader; Senate: President pro tempore & minority leader) would provide the governor a list of at least 2 candidates.

SB 103 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 7 and is currently on the Senate’s Second Reading Calendar.

ILB: Here is SB 103. It passed second reading yesterday and is eligible for 3rd reading today in the Senate.

The ILB wonders if it is constitutional. Here is Art. 7, Sec. 9:

Section 9. Judicial Nominating Commission. There shall be one
judicial nominating commission for the Supreme Court and Court of
Appeals. This commission shall, in addition, be the commission on
judicial qualifications for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
The judicial nominating commission shall consist of seven
members, a majority of whom shall form a quorum, one of whom shall
be the Chief Justice of the State or a Justice of the Supreme Court
whom he may designate, who shall act as chairman. Those admitted to
the practice of law shall elect three of their number to serve as
members of said commission. All elections shall be in such manner as
the General Assembly may provide. The Governor shall appoint to the
commission three citizens, not admitted to the practice of law. The
terms of office and compensation for members of a judicial nominating
commission shall be fixed by the General Assembly.
No member of a
judicial nominating commission other than the Chief Justice or his
designee shall hold any other salaried public office. No member shall
hold an office in a political party or organization. No member of the
judicial nominating commission shall be eligible for appointment to a
judicial office so long as he is a member of the commission and for a
period of three years thereafter.
(History: As Amended November 8, 1960; November 3, 1970).
The question is whether SB 103 would impose additional requirements on the selection by the Governor of the citizen members of the commission, beyond those outlined in the Constitution.

SB 103 would require the Governor to make his selection from "a list of recommended candidates" submitted by the House and Senate leadership.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 12, 2013 01:59 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts