Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Judicial Retention 2011

This upcoming legislative session will see 15 judges stand for retention- 10 superior judges and all five justices. The superior judges are:
Robert Bent
Cortland Corsones
Thomas Devine
Theresa DiMauro
Harold Eaton
Mark Keller
Michael Kupersmith
Linda Levitt
Gregory Rainville
John Wesley
This happens, of course, every six years. What is interesting about our statute is that a judge “inherits” the timing of his or her predecessor. So, every new judge doesn’t necessarily get an initial six year term; it’s the “seat” that has the six year term, not the individual. And when the constitution was amended to create this method of retaining judges, the entire Supreme Court was put on the six year cycle.
This results in an immense amount of work for the four representatives and the four senators who make up the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention. Their duties on this committee are in addition to the house members’ primary committee work and the senators’ two committee assignments. The retention committee works evenings, usually two nights a week until its work is done. And the judges must travel to Montpelier, probably three times, after a day on the bench. They are interviewed by the committee members; they usually attend a public hearing; and they return to answer follow up questions after the public input.
The House Speaker and the Committee on Committees (in the Senate) will appoint the committee members by the end of January. Although the committee is supposed to finish its work and bring its recommendation to a joint assembly by the tenth week of the session, that date will no doubt be rolled out by resolution of both chambers.
Some of you may already have been surveyed by legislative council if you’ve appeared before any of these judges. Stayed tuned to this blog for schedule updates as we get them.

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