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Gavel to Gavel: 3 legislative trends affecting the courts

February 1, 2023

By Bill Raftery

With state legislatures coming back into session, NCSC’s Gavel to Gavel is once again tracking legislation that affects the courts. In this session, there are three trends in legislative activity of particular note.

Efforts to protect the addresses of judges and their families: Often based on existing state laws, taking language from New Jersey’s Daniel’s Law or the Federal version enacted in 2022 as the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2022, these bills focus on two types. The first requires government entities to remove addresses and similar information of judges and their families from online searches or documents held by a government entity. The second allows either civil and/or criminal proceedings against third parties or individuals that post such information online, including data brokers. Several versions of these bills go beyond protecting information about judges and their families and include judicial assistants, prosecutors, and public officials in general.

Judicial Selection: Consistent with prior years, there are already over 40 bills in 17 states to alter how judges are selected. The proposed changes vary widely, with many focused on giving state legislators more control over the selection process, while others focus on adding or removing partisan labels on the ballot. Some appear to be unique. Oregon, for example, could be the first state to use ranked choice voting for most judicial races (North Carolina briefly had an experiment using ranked choice voting in limited circumstances from 2006-2013). NCSC has a map of the current judicial selection at each level of all states.

Judicial Disciplinary Proceedings: Legislation here is focused on requiring expanding publication of the names of judges who have had charges filed against them and the disposition of those charges, applying existing state open records laws to the judicial disciplinary process, and granting the legislature more power over the selection of members of the judicial disciplinary commission itself. Montana’s HB 326, for example, would remove the power of the state’s district court judges and supreme court to select members of the Judicial Standards Commission and transfer it to the Speaker of the House and Attorney General.

These and other pieces of legislation affecting the state courts are monitored at Want the week’s most newsworthy bills delivered to your inbox? Email Bill Raftery and request the Gavel to Gavel newsletter.

What legislation is your court tracking in 2023? Share your experiences with us. For more information, contact or call 800-616-6164. Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.