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State of Tennessee

History of Reform Efforts: Tennessee

Formal Changes Since Inception

All judges elected by the general assembly and serve during good behavior.

Tenure of supreme court justices changed from good behavior to twelve years. Tenure of all other judges changed from good behavior to eight years.

All judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

Legislature passes the Tennessee Plan, which prescribed a merit-based selection process for all appellate judges.

Tennessee Plan for supreme court repealed.

Tennessee Plan reauthorized for supreme court and retention evaluation program adopted.

Size of judicial selection commission increased from fifteen to seventeen members. Two-term limit established for commission members.

Judicial selection commission replaced by the judicial nominating commission. Eight of the seventeen nominating commission members appointed by the speaker of the senate, eight members by the speaker of the house, and one member by the speakers jointly. Governor permitted to call for a second panel of three nominees and to choose an appointee from the first or second panel. Retention ballot language changed to ask voters whether to "retain" or "replace" judges.