Judicial election Laws – Term of Supreme Court

§ 23-15-991. Term of office; elections

The term of office of judges of the Supreme Court shall be eight (8) years. Concurrently with the regular election for representatives in Congress, held next preceding the expiration of the term of an incumbent, and likewise each eighth year thereafter, an election shall be held in the Supreme Court district from which such incumbent was elected at which there shall be elected a successor to the incumbent, whose term of office shall thereafter begin on the first Monday of January of the year in which the term of the incumbent he succeeds expires.

Judicial Election Laws – Filing

§ 23-15-977. Filing of intent to be candidate and fees by candidates for judicial office; notification of county commissioners of filings; procedures to be followed if there is only one candidate who becomes disqualified from holding judicial office after filing deadline

  • (1)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, all candidates for judicial office as defined in Section 23-15-975 of this subarticle shall file their intent to be a candidate with the proper officials not later than 5:00 p.m. on the first Friday after the first Monday in May before the general election for judicial office and shall pay to the proper officials the following amounts:
    • (a)  Candidates for Supreme Court judge and Court of Appeals, the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($ 200.00).
    • (b)  Candidates for circuit judge and chancellor, the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00).
    • (c)  Candidates for county judge and family court judge, the sum of Fifteen Dollars ($ 15.00).Candidates for judicial office may not file their intent to be a candidate and pay the proper assessment before January 1 of the year in which the election for the judicial office is held.
  • (2)  Candidates for judicial offices listed in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of this section shall file their intent to be a candidate with, and pay the proper assessment made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to, the State Board of Election Commissioners.
  • (3)  Candidates for judicial offices listed in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section shall file their intent to be a candidate with, and pay the proper assessment made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to, the circuit clerk of the proper county. The circuit clerk shall notify the county election commissioners of all persons who have filed their intent to be a candidate with, and paid the proper assessment to, such clerk. The notification shall occur within two (2) business days and shall contain all necessary information.
  • (4)  If only one (1) person files his or her intent to be a candidate for a judicial office and that person later dies, resigns or is otherwise disqualified from holding the judicial office after the deadline provided for in subsection (1) of this section but more than seventy (70) days before the date of the general election, the Governor, upon notification of the death, resignation or disqualification of the person, shall issue a proclamation authorizing candidates to file their intent to be a candidate for that judicial office for a period of not less than seven (7) nor more than ten (10) days from the date of the proclamation.
  • (5)  If only one (1) person qualifies as a candidate for a judicial office and that person later dies, resigns or is otherwise disqualified from holding the judicial office within seventy (70) days before the date of the general election, the judicial office shall be considered vacant for the new term and the vacancy shall be filled as provided in by law.

 

Judicial Election Laws

§ 23-15-976. Judicial office deemed nonpartisan office; candidate for judicial office prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for office based on party affiliation; prohibition on political party fund-raising, campaigning, or contributions on behalf of candidate for judicial office

A judicial office is a nonpartisan office and a candidate for election thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation. The Legislature finds that in order to ensure that campaigns for nonpartisan judicial office remain nonpartisan and without any connection to a political party, political parties and any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party shall not engage in fund-raising on behalf of a candidate or officeholder of a nonpartisan judicial office, nor shall a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party make any contribution to a candidate for nonpartisan judicial office or the political committee of a candidate for nonpartisan judicial office, nor shall a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party publicly endorse any candidate for nonpartisan judicial office. No candidate or candidate’s political committee for nonpartisan judicial office shall accept a contribution from a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party.

KG Note: But see, Republican Party of Minnesota v. White

What can be done to improve judicial elections?

The hardest part of running for a judicial position is raising money.  You cannot get your message out or get votes without it.

The Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a candidate have a committee for this purpose.  Here are a few suggestions to the members of the Bar that will help ensure fair judicial elections this year.

  1.  If there is a contested race in a judicial district that you practice, volunteer to serve on a candidate’s committee (even chair it) and help (solicit contributions) the candidate raise the funds necessary to rule a good campaign
  2. Send the candidate’s committee a check for at least $200 on June 1st (or no later than September 1st).
  3. If the is more than one qualified candidate, send a check for at least $200 to the committee for each candidate you believe is qualified.
  4. If you can’t afford $200, send a check for $10.
  5. Volunteer to help.  Send a letter to your clients encouraging them to vote for qualified candidates, volunteer to work events, host fundraisers, stuff envelopes, or go door-to-door.  Or, just get a couple of their campaign stickers and wear them as your work in October and November.

If every lawyer affected by a judicial campaign would get involved, candidates would be able to focus on meeting voters and getting their message out to voters.

Judicial elections work best when all lawyers get involved.

Judicial Election Laws

§ 23-15-973. Opportunities for candidates to address people during court terms; restrictions with respect to political affiliations; penalties for violations

It shall be the duty of the judges of the circuit court to give a reasonable time and opportunity to the candidates for the office of judge of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, circuit judge and chancellor to address the people during court terms. In order to give further and every possible emphasis to the fact that the said judicial offices are not political but are to be held without favor and with absolute impartiality as to all persons, and because of the jurisdiction conferred upon the courts by this chapter, the judges thereof should be as far removed as possible from any political affiliations or obligations. It shall be unlawful for any candidate for any of the offices mentioned in this section to align himself with any candidate or candidates for any other office or with any political faction or any political party at any time during any primary or general election campaign. Likewise it shall be unlawful for any candidate for any other office nominated or to be nominated at any primary election, wherein any candidate for any of the judicial offices in this section mentioned, is or are to be nominated, to align himself with any one or more of the candidates for said offices or to take any part whatever in any nomination for any one or more of said judicial offices, except to cast his individual vote. Any candidate for any office, whether nominated with or without opposition, at any primary wherein a candidate for any one of the judicial offices herein mentioned is to be nominated who shall deliberately, knowingly and willfully violate the provisions of this section shall forfeit his nomination, or if elected at the following general election by virtue of said nomination, his election shall be void.