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State of Vermont

Methods of Judicial Selection: Vermont

Judicial Nominating Commissions

The judicial nominating board was created in 1966 to nominate judges of the supreme, superior, and district courts. The board consists of eleven members: the governor appoints two nonlawyers; the house and the senate each elect two nonlawyers and one lawyer (not all of whom may be members of the same party) from their members; and attorneys admitted to practice before the Vermont Supreme Court elect three lawyers. Board members serve two-year terms; the governor's appointees may serve no more than three terms; all other members may serve no more than three consecutive terms. Board members elect a chair to a two-year term. When a judicial vacancy occurs, the judicial nominating board submits to the governor the names of as many persons as it deems qualified for appointment. For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.

The joint committee on judicial retention reviews a judge's performance during the previous term and recommends to the general assembly whether the judge should be retained. The committee consists of four house members appointed by the speaker of the house and four senate members appointed by the committee on committees. During the review process, the committee conducts an initial interview with the judge, followed by a public comment hearing and a final committee hearing. The committee arrives at a recommendation by majority vote and prepares a report for the joint assembly of the general assembly. There is an opportunity for open debate and discussion, after which the assembly votes by secret ballot.

In conjunction with the judicial retention committee's review, the legislative council sends a survey to attorneys, assistant judges, and nonlawyers who appeared before the judge during the previous term. The survey results are made available to both the judge and the public.

Nominating Commission Costs

  • $2500 (2007)