Select a State:

History of Reform Efforts

Formal Changes Since Inception

Alabama

1819
Judges of all levels of courts elected for life by both houses of the general assembly.

1830
Tenure for judges of all levels of courts changed from "good behavior" to six-year terms.

1850
Circuit court judges elected by the people.

1867
Judges of all levels of courts elected by the people.

2009
SB 28 requires judges of the supreme court, court of civil appeals, and court of criminal appeals to have been licensed to practice law at least ten years, circuit court judges to have been licensed for at least five years, and district court judges for at least three years.

Alaska

1959
In its original constitution, Alaska established a merit plan for selecting supreme court and superior court judges. Supreme court judges were selected for ten-year terms; superior court judges were selected for six-year terms.

1968
Legislature created the district court. Judges chosen through merit selection for four-year terms.

1975
Legislature passed a bill proposed by the judicial council requiring the council to conduct performance evaluations of all sitting judges prior to their retention elections and to make the information available to the public. The council may, but is not required to, make recommendations as to whether judges should be retained in office.

1980
Legislature created the court of appeals. Judges chosen through merit selection for eight-year terms.

Arizona

1912
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. Superior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1960
The modern courts amendment increased the size of the supreme court from three to five justices, authorized creation of the court of appeals, and established a mandatory retirement age of 70.

1965
Legislature created the court of appeals. Judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1974
Through Proposition 108, merit selection was established for the supreme court, court of appeals, and superior court in counties with 150,000 or more people. The League of Women Voters, the Arizona Jaycees, the Arizona Judges' Association, and the State Bar of Arizona were instrumental in getting the initiative on the ballot.

1992
Proposition 109 approved by 58% of voters. Proposition 109 called for the establishment of a formal judicial performance evaluation process, created public committees to screen and recommend candidates for appointment to the state's judicial nominating committees, increased the number of lawyer and nonlawyer members of the nominating commissions, required that the diversity of the state's population be a consideration in selecting commission members and nominating judicial candidates, and raised the county population cutoff for merit selection and retention from 150,000 to 250,000.

Arkansas

1836
Under Arkansas’ original constitution, judges of the supreme court and the circuit court were elected by a majority of both houses of the legislature to eight-year and four-year terms respectively.

1848
Circuit court judges elected by the people.

1864
Supreme court justices elected by the people.

1868
Chief justice of the supreme court appointed by the governor with senate consent; associate justices elected by the people. Circuit court judges appointed by the governor with senate consent to six-year terms.

1874
All supreme court justices, including the chief justice, elected by the people. Circuit court judges elected to four-year terms.

1978
Legislature empowered to establish court of appeals. Judges elected to eight-year terms.

2000
In the 2000 election, the Arkansas electorate voted to adopt Amendment 80, which formally changed Arkansas' judicial selection method from partisan to nonpartisan elections. In addition, the amendment merged circuit, chancery, probate, and juvenile courts into a single trial court of general jurisdiction--the circuit court. It also consolidated courts of limited jurisdiction into one court--the district court. Term lengths for judges of the circuit court were increased to six years, and term lengths for district court judges were set at four years. The Arkansas Republican Party had supported the move to nonpartisan elections since 1990, while the Arkansas Democratic Party preferred the system in place. Democrats argued that, because judges cannot campaign on issues, political designations are helpful to voters. Democrats also recognized that a move to nonpartisan elections would drastically reduce the amount of filing fees paid to the party. In 2000, the Democratic Party received $110,000 in filing fees from judicial candidates, approximately 10% of the party's annual budget. The Republican Party collected approximately $20,000, about 3% of its budget. The amendment passed the house on a narrow 54-35 vote--only three votes more than needed to make the ballot--after some Democratic legislators tried to remove the provision on nonpartisan elections. Amendment 80 also had the support of the Arkansas Bar Association, the Arkansas Judicial Council, and the League of Women Voters. A total of $206,207 was spent by proponents of Amendment 80. Of this total, the Arkansas Bar Association contributed $155,102, the Arkansas Judicial Council contributed $10,000, the Arkansas Republican Party contributed $15,000, and law firms and individual attorneys contributed $26,105. The amendment received 57% of the vote.

2001
The general assembly enacted a nonpartisan elections law. Elections for nonpartisan judicial offices are held in conjunction with preferential primaries in May. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the two candidates getting the most votes will be in a runoff held during the November general election. There is no prohibition on nonpartisan judicial candidates seeking political party endorsement or purporting to have been endorsed by a political party.

California

1849
Judges of the supreme court and district court elected by the people to six-year terms.

1862
Tenure for supreme court justices increased to ten years.

1879
Tenure for supreme court justices increased to twelve years.

1904
Court of appeals created.

1911
Legislature established nonpartisan elections for judges.

1926
Constitution amended to provide for nonpartisan judicial elections.

1934
Voters approved an initiative measure that altered the selection process for appellate judges. Appellate judges would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the commission on qualifications (renamed the commission on judicial appointments in 1980) and would stand for retention every twelve years. The amendment allowed counties to adopt an appointive system for trial court judges by majority vote. In the same election, voters rejected a measure calling for merit selection and retention of superior court judges in counties with populations greater than 1.5 million.

1960
Commission on judicial performance established by voter initiative.

1979
Legislature adopted a requirement that the backgrounds and qualifications of all prospective judicial appointees be reviewed by the State Bar of California's commission on judicial nominees evaluation.

1986
Voters approved a constitutional amendment (Proposition 49) barring political parties from endorsing, supporting, or opposing candidates in elections for nonpartisan offices. The provision was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Geary v. Renne, 911 F.2d 280 (9th Cir. 1990)(en banc), but the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case as not ripe for review. The provision was again declared unconstitutional by a federal district judge in California Democratic Party v. Lungren, 919 F. Supp. 1397 (N.D. Cal. 1996).

1998
California judges campaigned for and won changes to the judicial retention ballot. Ballots would no longer include the length of the term of office a justice was seeking or the name of the governor who appointed the justice. Term lengths had been specified for the first time in 1994, and judges seeking retention for longer terms had received fewer votes.

Colorado

1876
Supreme court justices elected by the people to nine-year terms, district court judges elected to six-year terms, and county court judges elected to three-year terms.

1891
Court of appeals established. Judges appointed by the governor with senate consent to six-year terms. Court was abolished in 1905.

1902
Terms of county court judges increased to four years.

1904
Tenure of supreme court justices increased to ten years.

1913
Court of appeals established. Abolished in 1917.

1966
Voters approved a constitutional amendment adopting merit selection of Colorado judges. Judges are appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by a judicial nominating commission, and they stand for retention at the next general election after two years in office. Upon retention, judges of the supreme court, district courts, and county courts serve ten, six, and four-year terms, respectively. The effort to adopt merit selection began as early as 1947, when the Colorado Bar Association first encouraged the legislature to approve a merit selection amendment. From 1957 on, the bar, the League of Women Voters of Colorado, and other organizations worked together toward merit selection of judges and were successful in placing an initiative on the ballot in 1966.

1970
Court of appeals established. Judges chosen through merit selection to serve eight-year terms after initial retention.

1982
Judicial discipline commission established.

1988
General assembly created commissions on judicial performance to evaluate judges standing for retention and provide that information to voters.

2008
SB54 established the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation within the Judicial Department to provide for written evaluations of judges and justices by state and district commissions, analyzed according to certain criteria. Interim evaluations are to be conducted for all justices and judges at least once during their full terms of office.

Connecticut

1784
All judges elected by the general assembly; prior to the ratification of a constitution, tenure depended on the action of each general assembly.

1818
All judges appointed by the general assembly. Supreme court and superior court judges appointed for life; all other judges appointed annually.

1856
Terms of superior court judges changed from good behavior to eight years.

1876
Tenure of district court judges changed from one year to four years.

1880
Judges nominated by the governor and appointed by the general assembly to eight-year terms.

1965
New constitution drafted by constitutional convention. Supreme court and superior court judges nominated by the governor and appointed by the general assembly to eight-year terms.

1982
Appellate court created by constitutional amendment.

1986
Judicial selection commission created by constitutional amendment.

Delaware

1776
The court of appeals was the court of last resort, comprised of seven justices. Each house of the legislature appointed three justices, and the "president" or governor, elected by the general assembly, presided over the court. Except for the "president," justices had life tenure. Court of common pleas judges were appointed by the president and the general assembly by joint ballot. Judges were appointed for life.

1792
Judges of all levels of courts were appointed by the governor to life terms, except for justices of the peace who were appointed to seven-year terms.

1831
Judges of all levels of courts were appointed by the governor to life terms.

1897
Judges of all levels of courts were appointed by the governor with senate confirmation. Tenure was changed from "good behavior" to twelve-year terms.

1951
Supreme court created by constitutional amendment.

1977
Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV, established a judicial nominating commission by executive order. Each governor since that time has established a similar commission.

District of Columbia

1970
Until Congress passed the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970, the federal courts in D.C. exercised both federal and local jurisdiction. The 1970 legislation established the superior court and the court of appeals to assume responsibility for local jurisdiction. Judges of these courts are appointed to fifteen-year terms by the president with senate confirmation. The legislation also created the judicial disabilities and tenure commission.

1973
The judicial disabilities and tenure commission began evaluating judges who were seeking reappointment.

1977
The judicial nomination commission is created to recommend candidates for judicial appointment to the president.

1984
Mandatory retirement age of judges raised from 70 to 74.

1986
Judges who intend to seek reappointment must notify the judicial disabilities and tenure commission within six months, rather than three months, of the expiration of their terms. Evaluations of judges seeking reappointment must be presented to the president within sixty days, not thirty days. The judicial nomination commission must submit its list of nominees to the president within sixty days, rather than thirty days, of the occurrence of a vacancy.

Federal

N/A

Florida

1845
Circuit court judges, who also served on the supreme court, were elected by the legislature. Judges served initial five-year terms, followed by life tenure if reelected.

1848
Terms of circuit court judges reduced to eight years.

1851
Legislature provided for the supreme court to have its own justices.

1853
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms.

1861
Supreme court justices appointed by the governor with senate consent to six-year terms. Circuit court judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1868
Judges appointed by the governor with senate consent. Supreme court justices appointed for life; circuit court judges appointed to eight-year terms.

1875
Terms of circuit court judges reduced to six years.

1885
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms.

1942
Constitutional amendment reinstated elections for circuit court judges.

1957
District courts of appeal created.

1971
Legislature established nonpartisan judicial elections. Governor Askew took the first step toward merit selection with an executive order calling for the use of nominating commissions to fill judicial vacancies.

1972
Voters approved a constitutional amendment calling for the use of nominating commissions to fill vacancies at all levels of the judiciary.

1976
Voters approved a constitutional amendment calling for merit selection and retention of appellate judges. The reform effort was spearheaded by Governor Askew, Chief Justice Overton, and State Representative D'Alemberte.

1998
Voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing circuits and counties to opt for merit selection and retention of trial judges. The question would be put to voters in the 2000 election.

2001
Legislature revised the statute relating to the appointment of members of the state's judicial nominating commissions. Prior to the change, three lawyer members were appointed by the Florida Bar, three members were appointed by the governor and could be either lawyers or nonlawyers, and three nonlawyer members were selected by the other six commission members. Under the revision, the governor appoints all nine members of each commission. Four of the lawyer members must be appointed from lists of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar. The law also requires the governor to consider racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, as well as geographic distribution, when making appointments to the commission.

Georgia

1777
Judges appointed by the assembly for an indefinite term.

1789
Selection method unclear. Superior court judges selected for three-year terms.

1798
Superior court judges elected by the general assembly to three-year terms; inferior court judges elected for life.

1812
Inferior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1835
Constitutional amendment authorized creation of supreme court, with judges elected by the legislature to terms prescribed by law. Superior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1845
Supreme court created by the legislature.

1865
Supreme court judges elected by the general assembly to terms of no less than six years.

1868
Supreme court justices elected by the people to twelve-year terms; superior court judges elected to eight-year terms.

1877
Supreme court justices elected by the general assembly to six-year terms; superior court judges elected to four-year terms.

1896
Supreme court justices elected by the people.

1898
Superior court judges elected by the people.

1906
Court of appeals established by constitutional amendment. Judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1972
Governor Carter became the first Georgia governor to establish a judicial nominating commission by executive order to assist in filling interim vacancies on the courts.

1983
Judicial elections made nonpartisan under the 1983 constitution.

2000
Voters approved a constitutional amendment increasing from five to seven years the time for which judges of the state courts must have been admitted to practice law.

Hawaii

1959
Under Hawaii's original constitution, judges were appointed by the governor with senate confirmation. Supreme court justices were appointed to seven-year terms and circuit court judges to six-year terms. A mandatory retirement age of 70 was established. Judges could be removed by a two-thirds vote of each legislative house sitting in joint session or could be retired by the governor after inquiry and recommendation by a board.

1968
Terms of supreme court and circuit court judges increased to ten years. Legislative removal of judges abolished.

1978
Intermediate court of appeals and judicial selection commission created. The power to discipline, remove, and retire judges was transferred to the supreme court, which established the commission on judicial conduct in 1979.

Idaho

1890
Under Idaho's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected by the people to six-year terms. Judges of the district courts were elected by the people to four-year terms.

1934
Amendment providing for nonpartisan election of judges approved by 67% of voters. The move to nonpartisan elections was the result of a pro-Democratic sweep in Idaho and the rest of the country in the early 1930s. After the defeat of two Republican incumbent justices in the 1932 elections, Idaho's Republican leadership pushed for a constitutional amendment mandating nonpartisan elections.

1967
Judicial council created; empowered to nominate candidates for interim vacancies and to make recommendations to the supreme court for the discipline, removal, or retirement of judges.

1980
Court of appeals created. Judges chosen in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms.

1982
Amendment allowed selection of supreme court chief justice by other justices.

2003
Law requires third parties involved in political campaigns to report any last-minute expenditures exceeding $1,000 within 48 hours. The law was recommended by a task force created after the 2002 judicial primary elections to look into the role that money plays in the election of Idaho judges. In the chief justice race, an independent group spent nearly $174,000 on a last-minute advertising blitz aimed at unseating Chief Justice Linda Copple-Trout.

Illinois

1818
Judges elected for life by the general assembly.

1848
Supreme court justices elected by the people to nine-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1870
New constitution provided for the creation of an appellate court, to be composed of circuit court judges appointed by the supreme court. Appellate courts were first established in 1877.

1964
Voters ratified a new judicial article in 1962, to take effect in 1964. The amendment established a unified court system. All judges were elected by the people in partisan contests. Once elected, judges would run in retention elections for subsequent terms. Judges of the supreme court and appellate court were elected to ten-year terms; judges of the circuit court were elected to six-year terms.

1992
Legislature established the subcircuit system in Cook County to promote greater diversity on the bench.

2009
SB 1466 imposed limits on judicial campaign contributions of $125,000 for candidates in the first judicial district and $75,000 for candidates in all other districts.

Indiana

1816
Supreme court justices appointed by the governor with senate consent to seven-year terms. "Presidents" of the circuit court appointed by the general assembly, and associate judges elected by the people, to seven-year terms.

1851
All judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1871
Superior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1881
Criminal court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1891
Appellate court created by the general assembly. Judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1970
The judicial article was amended to establish three constitutional courts: the supreme court, the court of appeals, and the circuit court. Appellate court judges would be appointed by the governor from a list of candidates submitted by a judicial nominating commission and would retain their seats in retention elections. Appellate court judges would serve ten-year terms. Circuit court judges would be chosen in partisan elections and would serve six-year terms. The amendment took effect in 1972.

1986
Tax court created by the general assembly. Judges chosen through the same process as appellate court judges, i.e., merit selection.

Iowa

1846
Under Iowa's original constitution, the general assembly elected supreme court justices to six-year terms. District court judges were elected by the people to five-year terms.

1857
Supreme court justices elected by the people. Tenure of district court judges reduced to four-year terms.

1868
Circuit court created to handle all probate and minor civil and criminal matters. Circuit court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1876
Superior court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1915
Municipal court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1962
Merit plan established for selection of all judges.

1973
The Unified Trial Court Act of 1973 established a unified trial court, the district court. The act abolished more than 500 justice of the peace courts, 899 mayor’s courts, 14 municipal courts, and 34 police courts, and created judicial magistrates. In addition, the commission on judicial qualifications was created to investigate complaints of judicial misconduct.

1976
Court of appeals established. Upon retention after one year in office, judges would serve six-year terms.

2007
Law signed by governor that reduces the number of candidates submitted to the governor from the judicial nominating commission.

Kansas

1861
Judges of the supreme court elected by the people to six-year terms. Judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1895
Court of appeals created to assist with case delays; would expire in 1901. Judges elected by the people to four-year, nonrenewable terms.

1958
Constitutional amendment provides for merit selection of supreme court justices. Candidates are initially screened by the supreme court nominating commission, which recommends three candidates to the governor. Justices stand for retention every six years.

1972
Constitutional amendment provides the option of merit selection of district court judges. To adopt merit selection, a petition signed by 5% of the electors of that district must be submitted to the secretary of state. A merit selection proposition is then placed on the ballot in the next general election. The proposition must be passed a majority of voters in that district. District court judges chosen through merit selection stand for retention at the next general election after at least one year in office. Upon retention, they serve four-year terms.

1977
The court of appeals is re-established pursuant to statute, with judges chosen through merit selection. Judges stand for retention at the next general election after at least one-year in office. Upon retention, they serve four-year terms. For more detailed information on the history of the Kansas judiciary, see Jeffrey D. Jackson, "The Selection of Judges in Kansas: A Comparison of Systems," 69 J. Ka. Bar. Assn. 32 (Jan. 2000) and Stacie L. Sanders, "Kissing Babies, Shaking Hands, and Campaign Contributions: Is This the Proper Role for the Kansas Judiciary?", 34 Washburn L. J. 573 (1995).

2006
The Kansas legislature created the Commission on Judicial Performance to evaluate judges' performance. Evaluations are intended to promote judicial self-improvement and to inform voters regarding judges standing for retention.

Kentucky

1792
Judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent.

1850
Judges of the court of appeals elected by the people to four-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1975
Nearly 55% of voters approved a new judicial article establishing a unified court system, known as the court of justice, that included an intermediate appellate court. According to the amendment, judges would be chosen in nonpartisan elections, and the governor would fill interim vacancies from a list submitted by a judicial nominating commission. Terms of judges of the supreme court, court of appeals, and circuit court were set at eight years, and terms of district court judges were set at four years. The amendment also created the judicial retirement and removal commission, now known as the judicial conduct commission.

Louisiana

1812
All judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent.

1845
Tenure changed from life to eight-year terms.

1852
Supreme court justices elected by the people to ten-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1864
All judges appointed to eight-year terms by the governor with senate consent.

1868
Terms of district court judges reduced to four years.

1879
Terms of supreme court justices increased to twelve years. Court of appeals created. Judges elected to eight-year terms by joint ballot of the legislature.

1904
Supreme court justices elected by the people to twelve-year terms.

1906
Court of appeals judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1921
Terms of supreme court justices increased to fourteen years, court of appeals judges to twelve years, and district court judges to six years.

1974
Terms of supreme court justices and court of appeals judges reduced to ten years.

2000
Supreme court districts were reapportioned into seven new districts, with one justice elected from each district.

2006
Voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment increasing the minimum legal experience required of judicial candidates from 5 years for all judges to 8 years for district, family, parish, and juvenile court judges and 10 years for appellate court judges. The amendment also reduces the residency requirement for candidates for these courts to one year prior to the election in their respective districts, circuits, or parishes. The amendment took effect January 2008.

Maine

1819
All judges appointed for life by the governor with consent of the council.

1839
Tenure changed from life to seven years.

Maryland

1776
All judges appointed for life by the governor with consent of the executive council.

1837
Executive council abolished. Judicial appointments require senate confirmation.

1851
All judges elected by the people to ten-year terms.

1864
Term lengths increased from ten to fifteen years.

1941
Elections made nonpartisan.

1966
Court of special appeals created.

1968
Merit selection amendment rejected by the voters.

1970
Governor Mandel established judicial nominating commissions to propose nominees for appointment to the state's courts. Since 1970, every governor has issued a similar executive order.

1971
District court created by consolidation of system of trial magistrates, people's courts, and municipal courts.

1976
Contested elections for appellate judges replaced with retention elections, and term lengths of appellate judges reduced from fifteen to ten years.

Massachusetts

1780
All judges appointed for life by the governor with the consent of the council.

1972
Voters approved Article 98, an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution providing for a mandatory retirement age for judges of 70. The amendment had been adopted by both sessions of the general court in 1969 and 1971.

Michigan

1836
Supreme court justices appointed by the governor with senate consent to seven-year terms. Circuit court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1850
Supreme court justices elected by the people to eight-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1908
Legislature passed law allowing political parties to nominate supreme court candidates at party conventions.

1939
Constitutional amendment called for nonpartisan nomination and election of judges, except that supreme court justices would continue to be nominated at party conventions, and for incumbents to be designated on the ballot.

1963
New constitution provided that judicial vacancies would be filled by special election and that only judges who had been elected would be designated as incumbents on the ballot. Also provided for the election of the chief justice by the court rather than by the voters, allowed incumbent judges to bypass the nomination process by filing an affidavit of candidacy, and created the court of appeals.

1968
Constitutional amendment restored the power of the governor to fill judicial vacancies and the incumbent designation on the ballot for all judges.

1996
Voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring judges to have practiced law for at least five years.

Minnesota

1857
Judges elected by the people to seven-year terms.

1883
Judges' terms reduced to six years.

1912
Legislature established nonpartisan ballot for judges.

1983
Court of appeals established by the legislature.

1989
Commission on judicial selection created by the legislature to screen candidates for district court vacancies.

Mississippi

1817
All judges appointed for life by both houses of the general assembly.

1832
All judges elected by the people. Terms of judges of the court of errors and appeals and the chancery court set at six years. Terms of circuit court judges set at four years. Mississippi was the first state in the union to provide for popular election of all judges.

1868
All judges appointed by the governor with senate consent. Terms of supreme court judges set at nine years, terms of circuit court judges set at six years, and terms of chancery court judges set at four years.

1890
Terms of circuit court judges changed from six to four years.

1910
Judges of the circuit court and chancery court elected by the people to four-year terms.

1914
Supreme court judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1993
HB 548 established a court of appeals composed of five justices to be chosen in the 1994 elections.

1994
HB 1809 included the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act, which prohibits judicial candidates from “campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation” and stipulates that the names of judicial candidates will appear on the ballot with “no reference to political party affiliation.” The legislation also increased the size of the newly created court of appeals from five to ten justices. For more information on Mississippi's move to nonpartisan judicial elections, see "Judicial Selection Reform: Examples from Six States."

1999
HB 1609 limited individual and PAC contributions to candidates for the supreme court and court of appeals to $5,000, limited contributions to candidates for all other courts to $2,500, and mandated more extensive disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. The legislation also amended the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act to prohibit political parties from contributing to or endorsing judicial candidates. Governor Fordice vetoed the bill in April 1998, but the legislature overrode the veto in January 1999. The amendment to the Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in October 2002.

2002
According to SB 2289, judges who have been appointed by the governor to fill vacancies on the supreme court and court of appeals will serve out the remainder of the unexpired term if four years or less remain on the term. If more than four years remain, appointees run in the next general election held more than nine months after the vacancy occurs. Prior to the passage of this statute, appointees were required to run for election to keep the seat regardless of how much time remained on the unexpired term.

2008
SB 2571 made justice court elections nonpartisan.

Missouri

1820
All judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent.

1849
Supreme court and circuit court judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1872
Terms of supreme court judges extended to twelve years.

1875
St. Louis Court of Appeals created by constitutional amendment. Judges elected by the people to twelve- year terms.

1884
Kansas City Court of Appeals created by constitutional amendment. Judges elected by the people to twelve-year terms.

1909
Springfield Court of Appeals created by constitutional amendment. Judges elected by the people to twelve- year terms.

1940
The Nonpartisan Selection of Judges Court Plan was approved by the voters, 55% to 45%. The measure had been placed on the ballot through an initiative petition. The plan called for judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals, and circuit and probate courts in the city of St. Louis and in Jackson County (Kansas City) to be nominated by the governor from a list of three persons submitted by a judicial nominating commission. Judges would stand for retention in the first general election after twelve months in office.

1942
Following the approval of the Nonpartisan Court Plan amendment in 1940, legislators voted by a one-vote margin to repeal the amendment. In 1942, the repeal was put to the voters, who rejected it by a margin of 65% to 35%.

1945
The Nonpartisan Court Plan was included in the new state constitution.

1970
Voters extended the Nonpartisan Court Plan to judges in St. Louis County.

1973
Voters extended the Nonpartisan Court Plan to judges in Clay County and Platte County.

1976
The judicial article was amended but the Nonpartisan Court Plan was left intact. The most significant aspect of the amendment was that the judicial nominating commission was empowered to fill the vacancy if the governor did not select a nominee within 60 days. The 1976 amendment also reflected the 1970 and 1973 changes.

2008
Voters extended the Nonpartisan Court Plan to judges in Greene County.

Montana

1889
Supreme court judges elected by the people to six-year terms; district court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1909
Legislature enacted law requiring nonpartisan judicial elections. The law prohibited partisan filings by judicial candidates and required their nomination by citizen petition.

1911
Nonpartisan election law held unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court in State v. O'Leary, 115 P. 204 (Mont. 1911).

1935
Legislature enacted law requiring nonpartisan judicial elections.

1972
New judicial article increased term lengths of supreme court justices to eight years and terms of district court judges to six years. The new article also called for the creation of a judicial nomination commission to recommend candidates to fill interim vacancies. The commission was established in 1973.

1973
Beginning in 1974, when an incumbent judge is unopposed for reelection, voters are asked whether the judge should be retained.

Nebraska

1866
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. District courts were convened by supreme court justices.

1875
District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms. County court judges elected by the people to two-year terms.

1909
Legislature adopted the Nonpartisan Judiciary Act, barring judicial candidates from being "nominated, indorsed, criticized, or referred to in any manner by any political party, convention, or primary." However, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the freedom of speech guaranteed by the state's constitution in State ex rel. Ragan v. Junkin 122 N.W. 473 (Neb. 1909).

1920
Terms of county court judges increased to four years.

1962
Merit selection is adopted by constitutional amendment for judges of the supreme court and district court. Judges stand for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.

1974
Merit selection is extended to county court judges. Judges stand for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.

1990
Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the court of appeals, which began operating in 1991. Judges are chosen through merit selection, standing for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.

Nevada

1864
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1976
Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the commission on judicial selection to screen candidates for interim vacancies on the supreme court and the district court. Voters had rejected a merit selection amendment in 1972. The amendment also increased the terms of district court judges from four to six years and established the commission on judicial discipline.

New Hampshire

1784
All judges appointed for life by the governor and the council.

1792
Mandatory retirement age of 70 imposed.

2000
Governor Shaheen became the first New Hampshire governor to create a judicial nominating commission by executive order.

2001
Supreme court justices serve as chief justice for rotating five-year terms based on seniority.

2005
Governor Lynch followed Governor Shaheen's example with an executive order creating a judicial selection commission.

New Jersey

1776
Under New Jersey's original constitution, all judges appointed by the "council and assembly" (both houses of the legislature); tenure of supreme court judges was seven years and tenure of all other judges was five years.

1844
The governor, with senate approval, began to appoint the chancellor, the judges of the supreme court, and six judges. Chancellor and supreme court judges appointed to seven-year terms; six judges appointed to six-year terms. Court of common pleas judges appointed by the senate and the general assembly; inferior court of common pleas judges chosen by governor with consent of the senate.

1902
Seven vice chancellors appointed by the chancellor without confirmation for seven-year terms.

1947
Under New Jersey Constitution of 1947, all judges of the supreme court and superior court given seven- year terms.

1994
Senate President Donald DiFranceso implemented a major revision in senate procedures on judicial reappointments. Henceforth, all gubernatorial nominees for judicial reappointment would be automatically referred to the senate judiciary committee for review. The new procedure effectively bypassed senatorial courtesy for reappointment. While not a formal policy, the procedure appears to be continuing indefinitely.

New Mexico

1912
Supreme court justices elected by the people to eight-year terms. District court judges elected to six-year terms.

1952
Governor Mechem created an ad hoc judicial nominating commission to recommend candidates to fill judicial vacancies. All governors after Mechem used some form of voluntary merit selection until voters approved Amendment 6 in 1988.

1965
Court of appeals created. Judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1988
New Mexico voters approved Amendment 6, which established a hybrid system of judicial selection. Vacancies would be filled by the governor from a nominating commission list. Appointees would run in contestable partisan elections in the next general election and in retention elections thereafter. Constitutional amendments calling for merit selection had been rejected by voters in 1951 and 1982. Supporters of the 1988 effort included Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, New Mexicans for the Improvement of the Judicial System, and a group called Court Update. Many district court judges also endorsed the plan, but a majority of the supreme court's members opposed it.

1994
Required affirmative vote percentage for retention increased to 57%.

New York

1777
Judges appointed for life by the governor with council consent.

1822
All judges except county court judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent. County court judges appointed for five-year terms by the governor with senate consent.

1847
All judges except county court judges elected by the people to eight-year terms. County court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1876
Terms of county court judges increased from four to six years. Terms of all other judges increased from eight to fourteen years.

1895
Appellate division of supreme court created. Justices appointed by the governor from among those elected to the supreme court. Justices serve five-year terms, except the presiding justice who serves a fourteen-year term.

1913
County court judges elected by the people to six-year terms, except in New York County where judges serve fourteen-year terms.

1961
A new judiciary article created the unified court system. County courts were continued outside New York City, with judges elected by the people to ten-year terms.

1975
Governor Carey became the first New York governor to create judicial screening committees by executive order to nominate candidates for appointment to the court of claims and the appellate division of the supreme court.

1977
Voters approved a constitutional amendment calling for merit selection of judges of the court of appeals. Although a slim majority of upstate voters opposed the change, voters in New York City favored it by a two-to-one margin. The push for reform was led by Governor Hugh Carey and Chief Judge Charles Breitel and was promoted by editorial writers of the New York Times, the New York State Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and citizen groups such as the League of Women Voters of New York State, the Citizens Union of the City of New York, and the Fund for Modern Courts. For more information on New York's move to merit selection for the court of appeals, see "Judicial Selection Reform: Examples from Six States."

North Carolina

1776
All judges appointed for life by the general assembly.

1868
All judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1967
Court of appeals created.

1977
Governor Hunt created a merit selection panel by executive order to recommend candidates for mid-term vacancies on the superior court. He utilized the panel until he left office in 1985.

1996
General assembly established nonpartisan elections for superior court judges, effective 1998. Also provided that superior court judges would be elected by voters in their district, rather than statewide.

2001
General assembly established nonpartisan elections for district court judges, effective 2002.

2002
General assembly passed the Judicial Campaign Reform Act, which establishes nonpartisan elections for judges of the supreme court and court of appeals, gives appellate court candidates the option of public financing, provides for a voter guide on appellate court candidates, and lowers the limit on contributions to appellate court candidates to $1,000. The act takes effect in 2004.

2011
Governor Perdue created a merit selection panel by executive order to recommend candidates for mid-term vacancies on the North Carolina Supreme Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Superior Court.

North Dakota

1889
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1909
Legislature passed the Non-partisan Judiciary Law, which forbade any references to party affiliation in judicial nominating petitions and called for a separate "judiciary ballot" to list candidates without party designation.

1930
Tenure of supreme court justices changed from six to ten years. Tenure of district court judges changed from four to six years.

1967
Legislature changed the method of selecting the chief justice from rotation to election by the state's judges.

1976
Voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing a judicial nominating committee to recommend candidates to fill interim vacancies. The legislature did not create the judicial nominating commission until 1981. Voters had rejected similar amendments in 1966 and 1968.

1987
Court of appeals established on an experimental basis by the legislature. Its operation was extended in 1993, 1995, and 2000.

1998
Voters approved a change in the process for filling judicial vacancies, requiring that judges appointed to fill interim vacancies serve at least two years before standing for election to serve the remainder of the term. Prior to the amendment, appointees served until the next general election.

Ohio

1802
Judges of all courts elected by both houses of the general assembly to seven-year terms.

1851
Circuit court judges elected by the people to terms of an even number of years not less than six years, as prescribed by the general assembly. Court of common pleas judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1883
Supreme court judges chosen for not less than five years, as prescribed by the general assembly.

1892
Terms of supreme court judges fixed by statute at six years.

1912
Terms for supreme court judges "fixed by law, which shall not be less than six years." Court of appeals (formerly circuit court) judges elected by voters to terms prescribed by law of not less than six years.

1913
Terms of court of appeals judges fixed by statute at six years.

1968
Modern Courts Amendment to the judicial article approved by voters, including a provision that no person shall hold judicial office if they turn 70 on or before taking office. In 1989, the constitutionality of age restrictions for judges was challenged in federal court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the restrictions in Zielasko v. Ohio, 873 F.2d 957 (1989).

1850
Supreme Court justices elected.

Oklahoma

1907
Under Oklahoma's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected to six-year terms, and judges of the district court were elected by the people to four-year terms.

1909
Authorized by the constitution of 1907, the criminal court of appeals was created. The name was changed to court of criminal appeals in 1959. Judges were elected by the people to six-year terms.

1967
Following scandals involving three supreme court justices, voters approved two constitutional amendments that would insulate judicial selection from direct partisan politics. These amendments changed elections for district court judges from partisan to nonpartisan and established merit selection for the supreme court and court of criminal appeals. Interim vacancies on the district court would also be filled through merit selection.

1968
Court of civil appeals established. Judges chosen in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms.

1987
Selection method for judges of the court of civil appeals changed from nonpartisan election to merit selection.

2010
Voters approved a ballot measure that allows the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives to each select one non-attorney member of the judicial nominating commission, and prohibits non-lawyer members of the commission from having attorneys in their family.

Oregon

1859
Judges elected by the people to six-year terms. Supreme court justices also served as circuit court judges. County court judges elected to four-year terms.

1878
Judges provided for both the supreme court and the circuit court. Selection method and term lengths unchanged.

1910
Supreme court justices elected statewide rather than by geographic district.

1931
Legislature mandated nonpartisan elections for judges, requiring that candidates' names appear on the ballot "without any party designation" and prohibiting candidates from referring to their party affiliation when submitting a petition for candidacy. The Oregon State Bar had adopted a proposal advocating nonpartisan judicial elections in 1930.

1961
Tax court created by the legislature to provide uniform application of tax laws statewide.

1969
Court of appeals created by constitutional amendment. Judges elected to six-year terms.

1976
Voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the supreme court to discipline judges and judicial candidates for violations of rules of judicial conduct.

Pennsylvania

1776
Under Pennsylvania's original constitution, all judges were appointed to seven-year terms by a twelve- member executive council, whose members were elected by voters of the state's twelve counties.

1790
All judges appointed for life by governor.

1838
All judges appointed by governor with senate consent. Tenure of supreme court justices changed to fifteen years; tenure of court of common pleas judges changed to five years, except presiding judges who served ten years.

1850
Constitution amended to provide for partisan election of all judges. Vacancies filled by gubernatorial appointment until next election.

1874
All judges elected by the people. Tenure of supreme court justices increased to twenty-one years; justices not eligible for reelection. Tenure of all other judges increased to ten years. Two-thirds senate approval required for interim appointments.

1895
Superior court created.

1913
Appellate judicial elections changed from partisan to nonpartisan. Candidates prohibited from revealing party affiliations on the ballot or in their campaigns.

1921
Act of 1913 repealed; appellate judicial elections made partisan again.

1964
Governor Scranton became the first Pennsylvania governor to use a form of nominating commission to assist in selecting candidates to fill judicial vacancies.

1968
Under new constitution, judges chosen in partisan elections, with retention elections after initial ten-year terms. Provision authorized voters to consider in the 1969 primary election whether judges should be appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the judicial qualifications commission. Commonwealth court created.

Rhode Island

1842
Supreme court justices elected by the general assembly in grand committee; justices remained in office until a majority of each house passed a resolution declaring their office vacant.

1902
District court judges elected to three-year terms by the general assembly in grand committee.

1905
Superior court judges elected for life by the general assembly in grand committee.

1932
District court judges appointed to six-year terms by the governor with senate consent.

1956
Superior court, district court, and family court judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent.

1994
In June 1994, the legislature approved a merit selection system for lower court judges. A constitutional amendment providing for merit selection of supreme court justices was approved by the electorate by well over a two-to-one margin in November 1994. Leading the effort to adopt merit selection was RIght Now!, a coalition of organizations with a history of promoting reform within the state. Key members of the coalition were Common Cause of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Bar Association, and the Rhode Island League of Women Voters. Other coalition members included the Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, several environmental groups, the Catholic Diocese of Rhode Island, and prominent business leaders.

2007
General assembly passed legislation allowing the governor to choose judicial appointees from lists of finalists dating back five years.

South Carolina

1776
All judges (except chancery) elected for life by the general assembly and legislative council.

1778
Judges elected for life by the senate and house of representatives.

1790
Superior court judges elected for life by joint ballot of both houses.

1865
Superior and inferior court judges elected by the general assembly. Superior court judges elected for life; inferior court judges elected to four-year terms.

1868
Terms for supreme court justices set at six years. Terms for circuit court judges set at four years.

1895
Terms of supreme court justices lengthened to eight years.

1911
Terms of supreme court justices lengthened to ten years.

1976
Joint committee to review judicial candidates created.

1979
General assembly creates a court with exclusive appellate jurisdiction of criminal and family court cases.

1984
In the November 1984 general election, voters approve a constitutional amendment making the court of appeals a constitutional court. In January 1985, the voter referendum is ratified by the general assembly, amending the constitution.

1990
Statute prohibits legislative pledges of support for judicial candidates until after the screening process is concluded. South Carolina's judicial selection system had been criticized as a closed process, and this legislation was intended to create a level playing field for all candidates.

1996
In November 1996, South Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a judicial merit selection commission to consider the qualifications and fitness of candidates for all state judgeships. The amendment requires the general assembly to elect one of the nominees submitted by the commission. The general assembly passed legislation to establish the commission in 1997. Current members of the general assembly are prohibited from running for judicial office for one year after ceasing to be a member of the general assembly. Vote swapping, for either judicial votes or votes on legislation, in judicial elections is also prohibited. The creation of the commission was due in large part to the efforts of the South Carolina Bar, which had worked for more than twenty years to institute an independent commission to make recommendations to the legislature regarding judicial candidates. Prior to the creation of the judicial merit selection commission, the general assembly's joint committee to review judicial candidates fielded applications for judicial office and ruled on applicants' qualifications. However, the committee had no authority to remove an applicant's name from consideration. This meant that there was no limit on the number of candidates for any one judicial election, and that candidates who met the formal qualifications, but were not otherwise well-suited for the office, were sometimes elected.

South Dakota

1889
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. Circuit court judges elected by the people to four-year terms. County court judges elected to two-year terms.

1921
Legislature established nonpartisan judicial elections.

1972
Constitutional amendment created the unified judicial system, which consisted of the supreme court, the circuit court, and courts of limited jurisdiction as established by the legislature. The amendment provided that supreme court justices would be elected from districts rather than statewide and made all judicial elections nonpartisan. Terms of both supreme court and district court judges were increased to eight years. The amendment also created the judicial qualifications commission to investigate complaints against judges and make recommendations for disciplinary action to the supreme court.

1980
Constitutional amendment established a merit selection process to fill all vacancies on the supreme court and to fill interim vacancies on the circuit court. Prior to the passage of the amendment, a working relationship had developed between the judicial qualifications commission and the governor's office whereby most of the governor's judicial appointees were selected from lists submitted by the commission.

Tennessee

1796
All judges elected by the general assembly and serve during good behavior.

1835
Tenure of supreme court justices changed from good behavior to twelve years. Tenure of all other judges changed from good behavior to eight years.

1853
All judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1971
Legislature passes the Tennessee Plan, which prescribed a merit-based selection process for all appellate judges.

1974
Tennessee Plan for supreme court repealed.

1994
Tennessee Plan reauthorized for supreme court and retention evaluation program adopted.

2001
Size of judicial selection commission increased from fifteen to seventeen members. Two-term limit established for commission members.

2009
Judicial selection commission replaced by the judicial nominating commission. Eight of the seventeen nominating commission members appointed by the speaker of the senate, eight members by the speaker of the house, and one member by the speakers jointly. Governor permitted to call for a second panel of three nominees and to choose an appointee from the first or second panel. Retention ballot language changed to ask voters whether to "retain" or "replace" judges.

Texas

1845
All judges appointed by governor with senate consent to six-year terms.

1866
All judges elected by the people. Tenure of supreme court justices changed to ten years, district court judges to eight years, and county court judges to four years.

1869
Supreme court justices appointed by the governor with senate consent to nine-year terms. District court judges appointed by the governor with senate consent to eight-year terms. County court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1876
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. Court of civil appeals created, with justices elected to six-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms. County court judges elected by the people to two-year terms.

1891
Court of criminal appeals created, with justices elected to six-year terms.

1965
Amendment to the constitution provided for automatic retirement of district and appellate judges for old age, and created the state judicial qualifications commission to remove judges for misconduct and disability.

Utah

1896
Supreme court judges elected by the people to six-year terms. District court judges elected to four-year terms.

1945
Constitutional amendment provided that the governor appoint judges and do so "based solely upon consideration of fitness for office without regard to partisan political considerations." Judges retained their positions through contested, partisan elections. Term lengths of supreme court judges were increased to ten years and terms of district court judges to six years. The Utah State Bar was instrumental in the successful passage of the amendment.

1951
Legislature made judicial elections nonpartisan.

1967
Legislature created judicial nominating commissions to recommend candidates to fill judicial vacancies. Judges would continue to retain their seats through nonpartisan, contested elections. If judges are unopposed, voters are asked whether they should be retained.

1985
Voters approved a new judicial article, which established merit selection as the exclusive method of choosing judges of courts of record. Judges would be nominated by the commission, appointed by the governor, confirmed by the senate, and retained through unopposed (retention) elections.

1987
Court of appeals created.

1994
Legislature amended the laws governing the state's judicial nominating commissions. The amendments dissolved the existing commissions and allowed the governor to appoint all commission members and name the chairs of the new commissions. Prior to the amendments, lawyer members were appointed by the Utah State Bar. The amendments also changed the chief justice's role to that of a nonvoting commission member, increased the number of nominees the commission must submit to the governor, and changed the procedures regarding public hearings and confidentiality. The amendments were initiated by Governor Leavitt, who believed that the commissions were not giving him the choices or the variety of judicial nominees he wanted. The governor was also concerned that it was inappropriate for the chief justice to be a voting member of the commissions. The bar and the judiciary initially opposed the amendments, but a compromise was reached that provided the bar and the chief justice with limited roles in the process. The bar submits a list of nominees to the governor, from which the governor appoints lawyer members of the commissions; the chief justice ensures that commission rules are followed and resolves any disputes regarding those rules. Two citizen groups, Utah Common Cause and United We Stand America, objected to the amendments on the grounds that they transferred too much power to the governor and that they would allow the governor to appoint judges based on political considerations rather than merit. For more information, see Owens, "Utah Judicial Nominating Commission Amendments," 1994 Utah L. Rev. 1605 (1994).

2007
Created the Judicial Retention Election Task Force which is empowered to review and make recommendations concerning judicial selection and retention in the state.

Vermont

1777
All judges appointed by the Governor with consent fo the council.

1786
All judges elected to one-year terms by the unicameral general assembly in conjunction with the council.

1850
Inferior court judges elected by the people to one-year terms.

1870
All judges elected by the General Assembly to two-year terms.

1967
The General Assembly passed a law establishing a panel to review candidates for judicial vacancies and to provide the Governor with a list of qualified candidates.

1974
Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a merit selection system for Vermont judges. The judicial nominating board submits the names of qualified candidates for appointment to the governor, whose selection must be confirmed by the senate. Judges serve six-year terms, after which they must be retained by a majority vote of the general assembly.

Virginia

1776
Judges elected for life by the general assembly.

1850
Judges elected by the people. Tenure of justices of the supreme court of appeals changed from life to twelve-year terms. Tenure of circuit court judges changed from life to eight-year terms.

1864
Judges elected by the general assembly "from persons nominated by the governor."

1870
Judges elected by the general assembly; gubernatorial nomination no longer required.

1970
Name of the supreme court of appeals changed to "supreme court."

1983
Court of appeals created.

2002
Chief justice of the supreme court selected by peer vote to a four-year term. The statute does not apply to the current chief justice, who holds the position by virtue of seniority.

2008
SB 244 restructured the magistrate court system. Appointment and supervisory responsibilities transferred from the circuit court judges to the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court. Magistrate judges named after July 1st 2008 must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, and chief magistrates must be members in good standing of the Bar. During their tenure, magistrates cannot practice the law or other business unless granted permission by Executive Secretary. Probationary period for magistrates is extended from six to nine months.

Washington

1889
Under Washington's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected by the people to six- year terms. Judges of the superior court were elected by the people to four-year terms.

1907
Legislature established a direct nonpartisan elective system for nominating judges, replacing party conventions. Separate nonpartisan ballots were also authorized for the general elections.

1969
Court of appeals created. Judges elected to six-year terms.

1995
Voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing justices of the supreme court to elect a chief justice. Prior to the amendment, the chief justice was determined by a complex rotation system. The chief justice's term was increased from two to four years.

2006
Legislature applied the same contribution limits to candidates for the supreme court and court of appeals as for statewide candidates for other offices, and it put the same cap on contributions to superior court candidates that exists for state legislative candidates.

West Virginia

1862
Judges of the supreme court of appeals elected by the people to twelve-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms

1872
Term length of circuit court judges increased from six to eight years.

1974
Voters ratified the Judicial Reorganization Amendment, effective 1976. The amendment established a unified court system, uniting all state courts except municipal courts into a single system to be supervised and administered by the supreme court of appeals.

2000
Family court created, effective 2002.

2010
HB 4036 created a judicial vacancy advisory commission to assist the governor in filling midterm vacancies on the supreme court of appeals, circuit court, and family court.

2010
HB 4130 created a public campaign financing pilot program for the 2012 supreme court of appeals elections.

Wisconsin

1848
Circuit court judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1853
Supreme court created. Justices elected by the people to ten-year terms.

1889
Chief justice determined by seniority, according to constitutional amendment.

1977
Court of appeals created by constitutional amendment. Judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1983
Governor Earl established by executive order a governor's advisory council on judicial selection to recommend candidates for judicial vacancies.

1987
Governor Thompson restructured the advisory council on judicial selection.

2001
Governor McCallum established a governor's advisory council on judicial selection.

2009
SB 40, known as the Impartial Justice bill, was signed into law. The law creates a public financing system for judicial elections.

Wyoming

1890
Supreme court justices elected by the people to eight-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to six-year terms.

1972
Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the judicial supervisory commission (now known as commission on judicial conduct and ethics) and the judicial nominating commission. Judges of the supreme court and district court would now be appointed by the governor from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. Judges would run in a retention election after at least one year in office, with supreme court justices subsequently serving eight-year terms and district court judges serving six-year terms. The amendment also established a mandatory retirement age of 70.

1976
Voters ratified a revision to the selection and retention process that eliminated the requirement for prior approval by the judicial nominating commission before a judge could stand for retention.

1977
Merit selection extended to county court judges.

2000
County court renamed circuit court. Circuit court's geographic boundaries same as those of district court.