AJS Revises Its Model Judicial Selection Provisions

Article excerpt

The American Judicature Society's Model Judicial Selection Provisions offer exemplary language for establishing judicial nomination and evaluation processes of the highest quality. The provisions were first compiled in 1985 and revised in 1994. In early 2007, with the guidance of AJS staff, an outstanding advisory committee composed of members of the AJS Board of Directors undertook the task of updating the model provisions. The 2008 revisions represent American Judicature Society policy regarding the "best practices" in selecting, retaining, and evaluating judges.

While earlier versions of the model provisions offered a variety of alternatives regarding the composition and role of judicial nominating and evaluation commissions, this version limits the availability of alternative provisions to provide for the strongest possible processes. Earlier versions also offered language for establishing judicial nominating commissions by constitutional provision, or by statute or executive order. With this revision, in order to create a nomination process that has the greatest stability and legitimacy, model constitutional or statutory language is provided in Part I and model language for an executive order process is included in the appendix.

New provisions have been added to require that nominating commissions establish written procedural rules and that members participate periodically in education and training programs. Provisions encouraging diversity among nominating and evaluation commission members, and in the recruitment of judicial applicants, have been strengthened.

New commentary addresses current concerns faced by judicial nominating commissions, such as the importance of striking an appropriate balance between providing transparency in the screening process and protecting applicant privacy, and relevant considerations as to whether nominating commissions should have a majority of lawyer or non-lawyer members. …