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Luke Seeley

Luke Seeley is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Two West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justices win reelection

Three West Virginia Supreme Court seats were up for nonpartisan election on June 9. The general election for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, along with West Virginia’s statewide primary election, was originally scheduled for May 12. Governor Jim Justice (R) postponed the election in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Two incumbent justices were seeking re-election while one justice did not seek re-election. Receiving 41% of the vote, incumbent Justice Tim Armstead defeated Richard Neely and David W. Hummel Jr. Incumbent Justice John A. Hutchison defeated Lora Dyer and William Schwartz with 39.2% of the vote.

Incumbent Margaret Workman did not seek re-election. William Wooton, a former Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, won the seat with 31% of the vote. He defeated Joanna I. Tabit, Kris Raynes, and Jim Douglas. Wooton will take office in January 2021.

As of May 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Republican governor, while two were first elected in partisan elections, one as a Democrat, and one as a Republican.

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Four Mississippi Supreme Court seats up for election in November

Four Mississippi Supreme Court justices are facing non-partisan elections on November 3, 2020. Incumbent Justice T. Kenneth Griffis is opposed by Mississippi Court of Appeals Justice Latrice Westbrooks. Incumbent Justice Josiah Coleman is opposed by Third Chancery District Justice Percy L. Lynchard. Leslie King and Mike Randolph are both running unopposed.

Currently, five judges on the court were appointed by a Republican governor and four judges were initially selected in a nonpartisan election.

The nine justices on the Mississippi Supreme Court are each elected to eight-year terms in nonpartisan general elections. There are no primary elections for judicial candidates in Mississippi. Justices must face re-election if they wish to serve again.

The governor names a temporary judge whenever a midterm vacancy occurs on the court. If four or fewer years of the term remain, the appointed justice serves out the remainder of the term. If more than four years are remaining, the appointee will run in the next general election, taking place nine months or more after the vacancy occurs, and then serve the remainder of the term.

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One Indiana Supreme Court justice faces a retention election in November

One Indiana Supreme Court justice, Christopher M. Goff, will face a retention election on November 3, 2020. He was appointed in 2017 by Governor Eric Holcomb (R).

Currently, every justice on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

The governor appoints the five justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Indiana State Bar Association has majority control over the judicial nominating commission. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications is made up of seven members: three lawyers (selected by bar members from that district), three non-lawyer members (appointed by the governor), and the chief justice of the supreme court who serves as chair.

When a vacancy occurs, the commission compiles a list of three names. The governor must then make his appointment from this list. Initially, justices serve for at least two years, after which they stand for retention during a regularly scheduled general election. If they are retained, justices serve terms that last ten years.

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One South Dakota Supreme Court justice faces a retention election in November

One South Dakota Supreme Court justice, Steven Jensen, will face a retention election on November 3, 2020. He was appointed in 2017 by Governor Dennis Daugaard (R).

Currently, every justice on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

The governor appoints the five justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the South Dakota State Bar Association has majority control. The South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission is made up of seven members: two judges, three lawyers and two members of the public. The judges are elected by the Judicial Conference, the lawyers are chosen by the state bar association, and the members of the public are appointed by the governor.

When a vacancy occurs, the commission compiles a list of at least two names. The governor must then make his appointment from this list. Initially, justices serve for at least three years, after which they stand for retention during a regularly scheduled general election. If they are retained, justices serve terms that last eight years.

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One Kansas Supreme Court justice faces retention election in November

One Kansas Supreme Court justice, Eric Rosen, will face a retention election on November 3, 2020. He was appointed by a Democratic governor.

Currently, two justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while four were appointed by a Democratic governor.

The governor appoints the seven justices of the supreme court through a bar-controlled nominating commission. The governor selects four non-lawyer members while members of the Kansas State Bar Association elect five lawyer members. Four of the lawyer members are elected by bar members in each congressional district while the fifth is elected by bar members statewide.

When a vacancy opens on the court, the commission must nominate individuals to fill the empty seat. The commission nominates potential justices and then interviews the nominees publicly. Next, a majority of the commission decides privately on the most qualified candidates to recommend to the governor for appointment. Following its decision, the commission sends the governor a list of three names from which he must make his selection. The appointed justice then faces a retention election in the next statewide general election taking place at least 12 months after the justice assumed office and each subsequent six years.



One Missouri Supreme Court justice faces retention election in November

Missouri Supreme Court Justice Patricia Breckenridge will face a retention election on November 3, 2020. She is the only member of the court facing a retention election this year. She was originally appointed by a Republican governor in 2007 and won a retention election in 2008.

Currently, two justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while five were appointed by a Democratic governor.

The governor appoints the seven justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Missouri State Bar Association has majority control over the judicial nominating commission. The governor selects three non-lawyer members, while the state bar selects three lawyer members. The Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission is chaired by the chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.

When a vacancy occurs, the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission compiles a list of candidates and narrows that list to three choices. The governor must appoint a new judge from that list of three choices. After new justices have been appointed, the must face retention elections in the next general election occurring one to three years after they take office. They serve twelve-year terms if they are retained.



Four Iowa Supreme Court justices face a retention election in November


Four Iowa Supreme Court justices will face retention elections on November 3, 2020. The justices facing retention are Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, Christopher McDonald, and Thomas Waterman. All four justices were appointed by a Republican governor.

Currently, six justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while one was appointed by a Democratic governor.

In Iowa, judicial nominees are selected by the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission puts together a list of candidates they have determined to be qualified and then submits this list to the governor. The Governor must then choose one of the candidates from the list. The justice must stand for a retention election one year after the appointment. If retained, justices serve for eight years with a mandatory retirement age of 72.

Additional Reading:
Judicial selection in Iowa
Susan Christensen
Edward Mansfield
Christopher McDonald
Thomas Waterman



Two Nebraska Supreme Court justices face retention elections in November

Two Nebraska Supreme Court justices, Lindsey Miller-Lerman and Jeffrey Funke will face retention elections on November 3, 2020. Justice Funke was appointed in 2016 by Governor Pete Ricketts (R), while justice Miller-Lerman was appointed in 1998 by Governor Ben Nelson (D).

As of September 2019, six Justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor, and one judge was appointed by a Democratic governor.

• William Cassel: Appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in 2012.
• John Freudenberg: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2018.
• Jeffrey Funke: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2016.
• Michael Heavican: Appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in 2006.
• Lindsey Miller-Lerman: Appointed by Gov. Ben Nelson (D) in 1998.
• Jonathan Papik: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2018.
• Stephanie Stacy: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2015.

Justices are appointed by the governor through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Nebraska State Bar Association has majority control. The Nebraska Judicial Nominating Commission is made up of four lawyers selected by the Nebraska State Bar Association and four non-lawyers selected by the governor. The commission is chaired by a Nebraska Supreme Court justice who cannot vote.

When vacancies occur, the commission interviews candidates to fill the empty seat on the court. The commission chooses at least two candidates to submit to the governor, who has 60 days to make an appointment. If the governor does not appoint someone in time, the chief justice is responsible for choosing one of the commission’s nominees.

Justices seeking to keep their seats must run in retention elections in the first general election occurring more than three years after their initial appointment by the governor. Justices are then subject to retention every six years. There is no mandatory retirement age for supreme court justices in Nebraska.

Additional Reading:
Nebraska Supreme Court
Judicial selection in Nebraska
Jeffrey Funke
Lindsey Miller Lerman



Five Oklahoma justices serving on courts of last resort face retention elections

Oklahoma is one of two states with two courts of last resort. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state for civil matters while the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for criminal matters.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is composed of nine justices serving six-year terms who are appointed by the governor and then must face retention elections thereafter. Retention elections take place during Oklahoma’s general elections, which are held every two years in even-numbered years.

Four justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court are up for retention election on November 3, 2020:

1. Tom Colbert
2. Richard Darby
3. M. John Kane IV
4. Dustin Rowe

Heading into the 2020 election, Republican governors have appointed four justices to the Oklahoma Supreme Court while Democratic governors have appointed five.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is composed of five judges serving six-year terms who are appointed by the governor and then must face retention elections thereafter.

Justice Gary Lumpkin on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is up for retention election on November 3, 2020.

Heading into the 2020 election, Republican governors have appointed four justices to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals while Democratic governors have appointed one.

Additional Reading:
Oklahoma elections, 2020
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Court of last resort
Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission



Arizona Supreme Court suspends certain time requirements in response to COVID-19

The Administrative Office of the Arizona Supreme Court issued a directive on Tuesday, March 24th, extending time limits for court-related deadlines.

Administrative Director of the Courts David K. Byers issued Administrative Directive No. 2020-03 as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Chief Justice Robert Brutinel gave Byers the authority to suspend or alter time limits and court-related deadlines through Administrative Order No. 2020-45, which delegated such power to the administrative director of the courts during a health emergency.

The time limits and deadlines that have been extended include:
  • The suspension of the six-hour live program requirement in the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration.
  • The timeframe for new limited jurisdiction judges to complete New Judge Orientation.
  • The timeframe in which judges are supposed to attend programs both in and out of state.
  • The timeframe for probation officers to complete the Probation Officer Certification Academy and Institute for Intensive Probation Supervision.
  • The timeframe in which chief probation officers and directors of the juvenile court are supposed to attend programs both in and out of state.
  • The timeframe in which judges are to complete the specialized dependency-training program approved by the Committee on Judicial Education and Training.

The court also extended deadlines for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program and the Legal Document Preparers continuing education requirements.

This is the latest in a string of responses by the Arizona state government to the coronavirus. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) declared a state of emergency in Arizona on March 11, 2020. As of March 20, 2020, Gov. Ducey had ordered all schools closed until April 10, 2020. While courts remain open, they are to avoid in-person proceedings to the greatest possible extent and have rescheduled all petit juries. As of March 24, 2020, the Arizona State Legislature had suspended its session until April 13, 2020.

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