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Judicial Merrit retention in the state of Florida

Uploaded by Nategrey on Aug 05, 2005


Merit Retention
Merit Retention is a system of appointing State Supreme Court Justices that was established in Florida in the 1970’s. Whenever a State Supreme Court vacancy occurs, a Judicial Nominating Commission submits to the Governor the names of three to six nominees, from which he must select one to fill the opening. Once appointed, the new Justice’s name will appear on the ballots in the next election, with the question, of whether or not he or she should remain on the bench. New Justices face their first merit retention vote as soon as the next statewide general election is held. If the Justice is not retained in office, the appointment process will be repeated. If the Justice is retained however, she or he will serve a six-year term beginning in January following the “merit retention election.” Florida State Supreme Court Justices then face another retention vote in the general election occurring shortly before their six-year term concludes. If a Justice is not retained then, the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Governor will replace him or her. Additionally, the Florida Constitution institutes a mandatory retirement age for all Justices who reach the age of 70 (FL Supreme Court, 2005).

According to proponents of the merit system, when united with a stipulation for intermittent retention elections, “merit” selection allows an accommodation between the conflicting concepts of judicial independence and accountability, though many people question whether retention elections actually ensure any consequential degree of accountability at all. Critics cite that because incumbents appear for retention without an opponent, judicial retentions are generally very low-key affairs, which result in negligible voter interest in, and knowledge about, the Judges qualifications and past performance. As in nonpartisan elections, voters also have no cues to tell them who to vote for. Consequently, voter drop-off has been more considerable in retention elections than in both partisan and nonpartisan judicial elections. Moreover, generally all judges are habitually retained in office, regardless of their qualifications or past performance (Webster, 1995).

Personally, I don’t think that the type of merit retention system that is in place in Florida should be extended to the US Supreme Court or the Federal courts. The entire thing seems a bit haphazard to me. Everyone I know who votes, always votes that judges should be retained. Certainly there couldn’t be any type of national retention election for Supreme Court...

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Uploaded by:   Nategrey

Date:   08/05/2005

Category:   Law

Length:   3 pages (778 words)

Views:   2081

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