TagState courts

Both candidates for Oregon Court of Appeals Position 3 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Oregon Court of Appeals Position 3 —incumbent Darleen Ortega and Vance Day — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office.

The Oregon Court of Appeals, established by statute in 1969, is the intermediate appellate court in Oregon. The court hears all civil and criminal appeals from the circuit courts and also has jurisdiction to review some state administrative agency actions.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?            

Ortega:               

  • “I am experienced and highly competent. I have authored over 800 opinions and have participated in thousands of cases during my time on the Court of Appeals. That experience has not made me complacent nor institutionalized my thinking.”
  • “I am a judicial and community leader, including on issues of access to justice. I am a frequent speaker and discussion leader on addressing the gaps that exist between the goal of justice and the lived experience of people who interact with the legal system. I relentlessly make space for the voices of the unheard and lead by example in a practice of listening to those voices myself.”
  • “I approach my work with integrity and a relentless commitment to the ideal of justice for all.”

Day:               

  • “Equality: It is my firm belief that our laws should be applied to all people in all places at all times equally.”
  • “Freedom: It is my heartfelt conviction that government in a civil society under our Constitutions exists to respect and preserve our freedoms, not to erode or cancel them in favor of short-term administrative convenience or corrupt political gain.”
  • “Rule of Law: Every citizen has the right to expect that our Constitution and the laws that operate within it mean what they say and don’t mean what they don’t say in a concrete way and that these laws enacted by the People’s elected representatives prevail over the arbitrary and occasionally capricious whims of temporary elected officials.”

Click on candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.

We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete a survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Ask the candidates in your area to fill out the survey.

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All candidates for Michigan 2nd District Court of Appeals complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Michigan’s 2nd Court of Appeals— incumbent Sima Patel and Michael D. Warren — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office.

The Michigan Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Michigan. It is divided into four districts. The court was created by the Michigan Constitution of 1963, Article VI, Section 1, under which the State of Michigan has “one court of justice.”

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: How would you describe your legal philosophy?    

Patel:               

“I am a rule of law judge. That means I look at the statutes and rules, common law precedent, and apply and interpret them to the unique facts of each case.”

Warren:           

“Judges should not legislate from the bench, but apply a fair and faithful application of the law as made by the people or the legislature. […] As a proven rule of law judge, I will continue to protect the Constitution and the law.”

Click on candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.

We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete a survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Ask the candidates in your area to fill out the survey.

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Wyoming voters to decide ballot measure increasing judicial retirement age to 75

Wyoming voters will decide in November on a constitutional amendment that would increase the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 for state supreme court justices and district court judges.

As of 2022, 32 states have mandatory retirement ages for state judges. Including Wyoming, 18 states have a mandatory retirement age of 70. Seven have a mandatory retirement age of 75. In 2003, Vermont established the highest mandatory retirement age at 90 years old. The other 18 states do not have mandatory retirement ages.

Since 2016, voters in six states have voted on constitutional amendments to increase or eliminate the judicial retirement age. Two of the constitutional amendments were approved. Both of them, like the Wyoming amendment, proposed increasing the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. The other four were rejected. Two proposed increasing the age from 70 to 80 and two proposed eliminating the judicial retirement age.

In Wyoming, a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Wyoming State Legislature during one legislative session. The judicial retirement age amendment was introduced into the state Legislature as House Joint Resolution 1 (HJ 1). The Wyoming House of Representatives voted 54 to 5 to approve HJ1 on Feb. 24, 2022. All seven Democratic representatives voted in favor. Of the 51 Republican representatives, 45 voted in favor, five voted against, and one was absent. The one Independent representative and one Libertarian representative both voted in favor. The State Senate passed the measure in a vote of 20-30 on March 3, 2022. Both Democratic senators voted in favor. Among the 28 Republican senators, 18 voted in favor and 10 voted against.

As of March 3, the Wyoming State Legislature has referred one other constitutional amendment – Amendment A – the ballot. Amendment A would allow the legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities. The legislature may refer additional measures to the ballot during the 2022 legislative session, which is set to run until March 11, 2022. Two constitutional amendments concerning the state budget have passed the state House of Representatives and would be placed on the ballot if approved by the state Senate. One of the amendments would require that earnings from the Permanent Fund are deposited into an earnings account and requires that investment losses are addressed. The other potential amendment would create a separate earnings fund for earnings from the school account of the permanent land fund, allow the legislature to distribute or invest the earnings fund, and require the legislature to provide a process for supplying school fund investment losses.

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Tennessee Gov. Lee nominates supreme court justice

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) selected Sarah K. Campbell as his nominee to fill the vacant seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Lee’s announcement came on Jan. 12 after consideration of the three finalists put forward by the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments: Campbell and Tennessee Court of Appeals Judges Kristi Davis and William Neal McBrayer. Campbell will succeed Justice Cornelia Clark, who passed away from cancer on Sep. 24. Campbell is Lee’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

Under Tennessee law, state supreme court justices are selected by the governor with help from a nominating commission. The nominee must then be confirmed by the Tennessee State Legislature. While Tennessee state law changed in 2014 to eliminate the judicial nominating commission and require legislative approval of the governor’s appointee, Gov. Bill Haslam’s Executive Order No. 54 and Lee’s subsequent Executive Order No. 87 re-established the judicial nominating commission for appointments. Accordingly, Tennessee’s process is effectively assisted appointment with legislative confirmation.

Before her nomination to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Campbell worked as the state of Tennessee’s associate solicitor general and special assistant to the attorney general. Her career experience includes working at the Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly LLP and clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor.

Campbell earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and master’s and J.D. degrees from Duke University.

In 2021, there were 19 supreme court vacancies in 17 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. To date, 16 of those 29 vacancies have been filled. So far in 2022, there have been four announced supreme court vacancies.

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First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

Wyoming State Supreme Court Justice Michael K. Davis is retiring on Jan. 16, 2022, upon reaching the state court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years. The vacancy created by Davis’ retirement is the first state supreme court vacancy to be announced for 2022. Davis’ replacement will be Governor Mark Gordon’s (R) first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

Under Wyoming law, justices of the Wyoming Supreme Court are selected through the assisted appointment method. When a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement from a list of three names provided by a nominating commission. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they must stand for retention in the next general election. If retained, a judge will finish the remainder of his or her predecessor’s unexpired term. Subsequent terms last eight years.

Davis first became a member of the Wyoming Supreme Court when he was appointed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) on Aug. 30, 2012, to succeed Michael Golden. Davis previously served as a judge on the First District Court in Laramie County, Wyoming. From 1980 to 2008, he was a partner at Yonkee and Toner. He has also been a judicial fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Following Davis’ retirement, the Wyoming Supreme Court will include the following members:

  1. Lynne Boomgaarden, appointed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in 2017
  2. Kate M. Fox, appointed by Mead (R) in 2013
  3. Keith G. Kautz, appointed by Mead (R) in 2015
  4. Kari Gray, appointed by Mead (R) in 2018

In 2021, there have been 16 court vacancies in 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected, as of Sept. 8. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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Seven new judges join the Virginia Court of Appeals

Seven new judges joined the Virginia Court of Appeals on Sept. 1. The Virginia General Assembly elected eight judges to the court on Aug. 10, 2021. The eighth judge, Dominique Callins, will take office on Nov. 1, 2021, following the retirement of Judge William Petty. 

Established in 1985, the Virginia Court of Appeals was originally made up of 11 judges, but the passage of Senate Bill 1261 in March 2021 increased the number of judges to 17. The bill also expanded the “jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals of Virginia by providing for an appeal of right in every civil case.” Apart from the increase in judges, the bill has a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022. 

The following seven people joined the court on Sept. 1. Their terms end on Aug. 31, 2029:

  1. Doris Henderson Causey 
  2. Vernida Chaney
  3. Frank Friedman
  4. Junius P. Fulton III
  5. Lisa Lorish 
  6. Daniel E. Ortiz
  7. Stuart Raphael

Virginia is one of two states to use legislative elections to select judges. The legislative election method of judicial selection is a process by which state legislators choose judges to serve on a court. This method is unique among selection types in that neither the governor (via appointment powers) nor the public (via direct elections) has a role in this selection process. South Carolina is the other state to use this method.  

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Oregon Supreme Court justice to retire at year’s end

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto is retiring on Dec. 31, 2021. Nakamoto’s replacement will be Governor Kate Brown’s (D) sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Oregon law, midterm vacancies on the state supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment. Appointed judges serve until the next general election more than 60 days after they were appointed, at which point they must run for election in order to remain in office.

Justice Nakamoto joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 2016. She was appointed to the court by Brown. Upon her appointment, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American on the state supreme court.

Before serving on the state supreme court, Nakamoto served as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals. She was appointed to that court by Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) in December 2010. Upon her appointment to the court, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American from Oregon to serve on any state or federal appellate court. 

Following Nakamoto’s retirement, the Oregon Supreme Court will include the following members:

Founded in 1859, the Oregon Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. The current chief of the court is Martha Walters.

In 2021, there have been 15 court vacancies in 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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Oklahoma Gov. Stitt appoints state supreme court justice

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed Dana Kuehn to the Oklahoma Supreme Court on July 26. The appointment filled a vacancy on the court caused by former Justice Tom Colbert’s retirement on Feb. 1. Kuehn is Stitt’s third nominee to the nine-member supreme court.

Under Oklahoma law, state supreme court justices are selected by the governor with help from a nominating commission. The nominating commission puts forward a list of three names from which the governor chooses the appointee. The appointed judge serves an initial term of at least one year before standing for retention in the next general election.

Before her appointment to the supreme court, Kuehn served as a judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. She was appointed to that seat in 2017. From 2006 to 2017, Kuehn was a Tulsa County associate district judge. Prior to becoming a judge, she worked as a Tulsa County district attorney and as an attorney in private practice with Steidley & Neal, PLLC. Kuehn earned a B.A. in political science from Oklahoma State University and a J.D. from the University of Tulsa College of Law.

With her appointment to the supreme court, Kuehn became the first woman to serve on both of Oklahoma’s high courts.

In 2021, there have been 14 supreme court vacancies in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. To date, 12 of those vacancies have been filled.

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Missouri Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion amendment

On July 22, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a constitutional amendment enacting Medicaid expansion was constitutional. The decision reversed a lower court’s ruling that found the amendment approved by voters last August to be unconstitutional because it did not include a revenue source for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court ruled that the amendment “does not remove the General Assembly’s discretion in appropriating money to MO HealthNet,” and therefore, “the circuit court erred in declaring article IV, section 36(c) constitutionally invalid.”

The Supreme Court concluded that the Department of Social Services and Missouri HealthNet, who are responsible for the administration of Medicaid in Missouri, are required to use the funds appropriated by the legislature on all eligible recipients under the adopted amendment. The amendment, which was approved by a margin of 53.27% to 46.73%, expanded Medicaid eligibility in Missouri to adults that are 19 years of age or older and younger than 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below under the Affordable Care Act.

Stephanie Doyle, Melinda Hille, and Autumn Stultz—three individuals who qualify for Medicaid under the expanded eligibility—filed the lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. On June 23, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the amendment was unconstitutional because it did not include a way for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. He wrote, “If the court allows them to spend other state revenues by initiative such action would deprive the General Assembly of its constitutional right to appropriate revenues in all other non-initiative circumstances.”

Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project said, “As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missourians across the state will finally be able to realize the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion. State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman (R), who opposed the amendment, said, “The legal gymnastics employed by the court to get their desired political outcome sets a dangerous precedent and greatly diminishes the power of Missourians’ elected representatives.”

Since the Supreme Court has upheld Medicaid expansion, the state must file paperwork with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up the enrollment process for newly eligible individuals. Governor Mike Parson (R) previously withdrew the state’s paperwork in May after the state legislature passed the state’s budget without expanding funding for Medicaid.

The amendment faced legal challenges before the vote last August. In May 2020, two separate lawsuits were filed against Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) challenging the constitutionality of the citizen-initiated ballot measure by Americans for Prosperity-Missouri and United for Missouri. Both lawsuits argued that the initiative was unconstitutional because it appropriated state funds without creating a new source of revenue. In June 2020, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of the initiative keeping it on the ballot. Judge Green argued that the ballot measure does not require the state legislature to appropriate money for Medicaid expansion, and therefore, it does not need to provide a funding source. Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld Judge Green’s decision to keep the initiative on the August ballot after United for Missouri and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri appealed the decision.

Missouri joins 38 states and Washington, D.C., in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.



Governor Brian Kemp appoints new state supreme court justice, public service commissioner

Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed Verda Colvin to the Georgia Supreme Court and Fitz Johnson to the Georgia Public Service Commission on July 20 and 21, respectively. Colvin will fill the vacancy left by Justice Harold Melton, who retired on July 1 of this year, while Johnson will take former Commissioner Chuck Eaton’s position. Governor Kemp appointed Eaton to the Fulton County Superior Court on July 20. 

Founded in 1845, the Georgia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has nine judgeships. The current chief of the court is David Nahmias. As of July 2021, Republican governors appointed seven judges (eight once Colvin is sworn in) on the court and one was initially selected in a nonpartisan election. Judges are selected using the nonpartisan election of judges system. They serve six-year terms. When an interim vacancy occurs, the seat is filled using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection with the governor picking the interim justice from a slate provided by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. 

The Georgia Public Service Commission is a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative state body responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities: electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms. The commission is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms. If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next general election. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson must win election in November 2022 to serve the remainder of Eaton’s term, which expires in 2024.

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