Contact:  Sandy Adkins
Communications Specialist
National Center for State Courts
757.259.1515

 

Nearly 20 court-related items on Nov. 2 state ballots

Williamsburg, Va. (Oct. 28, 2010) — In addition to casting ballots for political and judicial candidates on Nov. 2, voters in 10 states also will be asked to decide on a range of court-related ballot measures impacting judicial selection, court structure, and bail qualifications, among other issues. The following are some of the court issues voters will weigh in on next Tuesday.
 
Judicial Selection

  • Nevada — Question No. 1: Currently, Nevada Supreme Court justices and district court judges run in nonpartisan elections. This amendment would replace those elections with a merit selection system. Justices and judges would be appointed by the governor for their initial terms from lists of candidates nominated by a Commission on Judicial Selection, with subsequent retention of those justices and judges after independent performance evaluations. Those seeking re-election would run in retention elections, in which voters select "yes" or "no" on whether sitting judges should remain in office for the next term, and must receive at least 55 percent of voter approval to be returned to office.
  • Oklahoma — State Question No. 752: Oklahoma currently uses a merit selection system with a Judicial Nominating Commission for its appellate courts. This amendment would make two changes to the commission: It would mandate that members selected to fill seats designed for non-attorneys could not have attorneys within their families, and it would add two non-attorney members, one selected by the speaker of the house and the other by the Senate president pro tempore.

Court Processes/Structure

  • Maryland — Question 3: This amendment would affect only residents of Baltimore City. Currently, Maryland's Constitution has few limits on who may serve as an Orphan's Court judge. Individuals only need to be a citizen of the state and resident of the city or county in which they are elected for the 12 months prior to the election. This amendment would require judges of the Orphan's Court in Baltimore City to be attorneys in good standing.
  • Nevada — Question No. 2: The Nevada Constitution currently limits the types of courts permitted in the state to a Supreme Court, District courts, justices of the peace, and Municipal courts. This amendment would permit, but not require, the legislature to create an intermediate appellate court to hear civil and criminal appeals from the District courts. Nevada is one of 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, that does not have at least one intermediate appellate court.

Bail/Pretrial Release

  • Colorado — Proposition 102: This proposition would require that only defendants arrested for a first offense, nonviolent misdemeanor may be recommended for release or actually released to a pretrial-service program's supervision in lieu of a cash, property, or professional surety bond.
  • Washington — Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220: This amendment would authorize courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by life in prison on clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that would likely endanger the public. Currently, bail can only be denied in some Washington death-penalty cases.

Other

  • Oklahoma — State Question No. 755: This amendment would prohibit the courts from looking "to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures." Specifically, the courts could not consider international or Sharia law. The amendment also would require courts to adhere only to the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions and, where necessary, the laws and regulations of another state.

The nearly 20 court-related items on next week's ballots are outlined in a special edition of Gavel to Gavel, the National Center for State Courts' newsletter that tracks legislation affecting the courts.

 

The NCSC Backgrounder is designed to provide the media with statistics and facts related to current issues of interest.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation's state courts.