Judicial Selection Process – Texas Vs Virginia

Judicial Selection Process Assignment Instructions

  1. Discuss the judicial selection process of your state. Include, at a minimum, the qualifications and steps that are taken in order to select judges for the different kinds of courts within your specific state.
  2. Choose a second state, and describe the qualifications and the selection process for judges within that state.
  3. Compare and contrast for both states the qualifications necessary for a prospective candidate to become a judge. Next, identify the steps that the relevant persons / entities need to take in order to remove a judge from office for disciplinary reasons for each state.
  4. Justify the selection process for the state that you believe has the best system in place. Justify the response.

Texas Vs Virginia Judicial Selection Process – Sample Answer

Texas Judicial Selection Process

The state court judges’ selection in Texas takes place via opinionated elections at every level of the court. Although the length of the term for each judicial category varies, all judges have to run for re-election if interested at the end of their terms. Terms of judges based on the Texas Constitution start on 1st January after their re-election of election. The Texas state court judges are all selected in the same manner. This includes nine Supreme Court justices, nine criminal appeals court justices and 80 court of appeals judges. Judges are selected in biased elections to serve for a term of six-years. Unlike majority of the U. S. states, the judge or Chief Justice in every Texas court is chosen by voters in general. To qualify to take part in this selection, a judge have to be a U.S. citizen, aged between 35 and 75, certified to practice law in the Texas, be a Texas resident, and a practicing judge or lawyer for not less than 10 years. Although judges who are older than74 years are not allowed to run for office, judges who attain 75 years while in office are permitted to continue until their term is over. In case of a midterm position, the replacement is appointed by the governor, though the appointed individual must be approved by the Texas Senate. The appointee works until the following general election where she or he might contest to server for remaining part of the unexpired term (Ballotpedia.org, 2015a).

The Texas District Courts judges are also selected in biased elections. They serve for a term of four-years where one can consider quit or go through a re-election process if interested to continue serving. To qualify to be elected as a judge in the district courts of Texas one must be a citizen of the U.S., Texas resident, aged between 25 and 75 years, certified to practice law in Texas, be a practicing state judge and lawyer for a minimum of two years. Judges older than 74 years are also not allowed to take part in the election though they are allowed to complete their term in case they turn 75 while in the office. Similar to Appellate courts vacancies in district courts are filled by appointments done by governor with senate confirmation.

Beside district courts judge Texas district courts also accommodate presiding judges. Texas contains more than hundred district courts that ate categorized into nine judicial administrative regions. Every region is supervised by a presiding judge that is appointed to serve for a period of 4-years by a governor. Based on the website of Texas courts the presiding judge might be a retired district judge, regular elected judge, a retired appellate judge containing district court experience or a previous judge with a minimum of 12 years serving as a district judge.

County courts on the other hand are categorized into two judgeships that include the statute created judgeships and constitutional country courts that include Texas County Courts at Law and Texas Statutory Probate Courts. However, most judgeships aspects are the same. All judges in country level are chosen in partisan election by the county and work for a term of 4-years. County commissioners vote are responsible for filling in the vacancies. To qualify for a position as a county court judge one must be at a minimum of 25 years of age, be a Texas residence for not less than 2 years and must have served as a judge or practiced law for not less than 4 years (Ballotpedia.org, 2015a).

Texas Judicial dismissal

Judges in Texas can be removed using one of the four techniques. One is, the judicial conduct state commission investigates the presented case, and if necessary, the commission prosecutes the misconduct allegations by Texas judges. In case the commission applauds retirement or dismissal, the supreme court chooses a review tribunal whose members are selected from judges in the court of appeals to verify the investigation results and make their judgment. The affected judge is allowed to appeal the review tribunal decisions to the Supreme Court. Judges might also be removed the Texas governor on the address of the house two thirds majority as well as the support of similar percentage from the senate. Moreover, judges might be impeached by the representatives of the house and be removed by the senate two third majorities. Finally, Texas allows the supreme court to remove judges from the district court from the office (NCSC, 2015).

Virginia Judicial Selection Process

Unlike Texas, state court judges’ selection in Virginia takes place virtually exclusively via legislative election. This is the only state other than South Carolina where judges are selected using this technique. The process of selection is identical foe circuit court, court of appeals and Supreme Court judges. Judges based on Virginia Constitution are elected by the Virginia General Assembly majority vote. In this case, circuit and appeals judges serve for a term of 8 years while justices in the Supreme Court serve for 12-years term. Judges re-election at the end of their term can only be done by the legislature. On the other hand, Chief Judge or Chief Justice of every court is elected by peer vote. Circuit and appeal court chief judges’ server for a period of two years while chief justice in the Supreme Court serves for a period of four years (Ballotpedia.org, 2015b).

To serve as a judge in the circuit court, court of appeals or supreme court in Virginia one have to be a state resident, be not more than 70 years of age, be a member of state bar for about five years, and for circuit judges be a circuit resident. On the contrary to Texas, Virginia offers a mandatory retirement for serving judges who turn 70 years of age. Those judges might serve for 20 more days after the assembling of the sessions of regular general assembly following the judge birthday. Moreover, filling of midterm vacancies is facilitated by the same process of legislative election which is usually applied to choose judges.

Judges in district courts are also selected using the same legislative election procedure though the elected judges only work for 6 years. To qualify for this position, one must be less than 70 years, member of state bar for a minimum of 5 years, and be a local and state resident of Virginia. Midterm vacancies are also filled in by the legislative section (Ballotpedia.org, 2015b).

Virginia Judicial Dismissal

Virginia process of removing judges from their position is quite different from what was seen in the Texas. Virginia judges can be removed from the office using two techniques. In the first technique, the review commission and judicial inquiry investigates the serious physical or mental disability allegation that may be interfering with duties of a judge, or judicial misconduct complaints. A hearing may be conducted by the commission and collect evidence to establish whether there are substantial charges against a judge in question. If significant charges are found by the commission, the commission files a formal complaint with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court might dismiss the complaint based on the evidence or it might remove, censure, or retire the judge. Alternatively, judges in Virginia might be impeached by the delegates’ house and removed by the senate two third votes (NCSC, 2015).

The Best Judicial Selection System between Texas and Virginia

In my opinion, Texas has a more fair and reliable judicial selection process. This is because, there are a high chance of selecting a fair judge without any power influence since the votes are done by citizens. Moreover, the judge has a better ground of working fairly since a judge does not have to spare the top government official due to a favor done previously. The use of citizens in judges’ selection is a quite fair way of choosing a judge. It creates a high chance of eliminating a bias judge and taking a judge with a legacy of ensuring justice. On the contrary, the use of legislators to select judges creates a high chance of having bias judges who are controlled by the legislative bodies and thus, who cannot give a just judgment in any case that involves the legislative body. The legislators may take that chance to create a corrupt judicial system which only sacrifices innocent people to protect criminals in the legislative body and thus, it is not the best technique to select judges.

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