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State of Delaware

Judicial Selection in the States: Delaware

Overview

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The Delaware judiciary is composed of the supreme court, the superior court, the court of chancery, and various courts of limited jurisdiction. The supreme court is the state's appellate court, the superior court is the court of general law jurisdiction, and the court of chancery is the trial court of general equity jurisdiction. Courts of limited jurisdiction include the family court, the court of common pleas, the justice of the peace court, and the alderman’s courts.

Currently, Delaware judges are chosen through a merit selection process. Under the Delaware Constitution, judges are appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate. Since 1977, Delaware governors have adopted executive orders creating a judicial nominating commission to identify highly qualified candidates for judicial appointments. With the exception of justices of the peace, judges serve twelve years--one of the longest terms for state court judges in the United States. Unlike judges in other merit selection states, judges in Delaware do not run for retention; instead, they must be reappointed through the same process by which they were appointed. An interesting feature of the Delaware Constitution is the requirement that there be partisan balance within the Delaware judiciary.