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State of Georgia

Judicial Selection in the States: Georgia

Overview

News

Georgia has one of the most complex trial court systems in the nation, with at least 6 distinct trial courts (Superior, Probate, State, Magistrate, Municipal,...

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A hearing was held earlier this week on a series of bills filed to address diversity in the Rhode Island judiciary. Video of the hearing...

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The ongoing efforts by members of the Rhode Island House to diversify the bench continues. HB 7908 as filed would require the state s Judicial...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Georgia judiciary consists of a supreme court, a court of appeals, a superior court, and various trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Judges are chosen in nonpartisan elections, but mid-term vacancies are filled through gubernatorial appointment. Since 1972, Georgia governors have established by executive order judicial nominating commissions to recommend candidates to fill the vacancies. The vast majority of Georgia judges are initially appointed to the bench and compete in contested elections to retain their seats.

Until recently, Georgia prohibited judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions and public endorsements. In 2002, however, a federal court of appeals struck down that provision of Georgia's code of judicial conduct, along with a provision that barred judicial candidates from making misleading statements. According to the court, "the distinction between judicial elections and other types of elections has been greatly exaggerated, and we do not believe that the distinction, if there truly is one, justifies greater restriction on speech during judicial campaigns than during other types of campaigns." Weaver v. Bonner, 309 F.3d 1312, 1321 (11th Cir. 2002). Supporters of the restriction on soliciting contributions are concerned that allowing judges to seek contributions from attorneys and other parties who may appear before them threatens the integrity of the judiciary. Some reformers are using the decision to advocate public financing of judicial campaigns.