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State of Delaware

Methods of Judicial Selection: Delaware

Judicial Nominating Commissions

Since 1977, Delaware governors have established by executive order a judicial nominating commission to identify highly qualified candidates for judicial appointments. Delaware's current commission operates pursuant to Executive Order No. 4 and applies to the appointment of judges of the supreme court, the superior court, the court of chancery, the family court, and the court of common pleas, and to the appointment of the chief magistrate of the justice of the peace courts. A magistrate screening committee is used for associate magistrates of the justice of the peace courts.

The judicial nominating commission is composed of eleven members. The governor appoints ten members, including at least four lawyers and at least four nonlawyers. The president of the Delaware State Bar Association nominates with the governor's consent the eleventh member, who is then appointed by the governor. The governor designates the commission's chairperson. Commissioners serve staggered, three-year terms and may be reappointed by the governor. No more than six commissioners may be members of the same political party at the time of their appointment.

When a judicial vacancy occurs, the commission submits the names of at least three candidates to the governor. The governor may decline to nominate someone from this list and may request a supplemental list of no fewer than three names. The governor must nominate a candidate from one of these lists, unless the senate fails to confirm the nominee. Sitting judges apply to the commission for reappointment. The commission must recommend their reappointment unless at least two thirds of the members of the commission object.

In the past, the Delaware State Bar Association has played a more active role than it does currently in the judicial selection process. Some governors have allowed the bar's judicial appointments committee to comment on commission nominees before the list is submitted to the governor, indicating whether nominees are qualified to serve.

For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.

Nominating Commission Costs

  • $8000 (2007)
  • $8000 (2006)
  • $8000 (2005)