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State of Rhode Island

Methods of Judicial Selection: Rhode Island

Judicial Nominating Commissions

Established in 1994, the judicial nominating commission is composed of nine members. The governor appoints three lawyers and one nonlawyer of his or her choice. The governor also appoints five additional commission members, one from each of the following lists: at least three lawyers submitted by the speaker of the house; at least three lawyers and/or nonlawyers submitted by the senate majority leader; four nonlawyers submitted jointly by the speaker and the senate majority leader; at least three nonlawyers submitted by the minority leader of the house; and at least three nonlawyers submitted by the minority leader of the senate. Commission members serve four-year terms.

The commission publishes notices of judicial vacancies in a number of state newspapers. Interested candidates complete an extensive application. The commission selects candidates to be interviewed, solicits public comment, and conducts background checks. The commission then votes and submits the names of three to five candidates for each vacancy to the governor. The commission is charged with exercising "reasonable efforts to encourage racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within the judiciary." Click here for statutes regarding the composition and operation of the commission, and here for the uniform rules of procedure for the judicial nominating commission. 

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

For law review articles on Rhode Island's switch to merit selection, see "Rhode Island's New Judicial Merit Selection Law," 1 R.W.U.L. Rev. 63 (1996); and "Rhode Island's Judicial Nominating Commission: Can 'Reform' Become Reality?", 1 R.W.U.L. Rev. 87 (1996).

Nominating Commission Costs

  • $10,000 (2007)