Judiciary

JUDICIARY (1963, 1964, 1967, 1970, 2009, 2015)

Support for:
  1. A Constitutional provision for a statewide, uniform, unified judicial system in which all judges are trained attorneys. (1963, reaffirmed 1967, expanded 2009)
  2. Appointment of judges by the governor based on recommendations of the judicial nominating commissions, with voter confirmation in nonpartisan merit retention elections. (1964, reaffirmed 1967, 1970, 2009)
  3. A method for removal of judges that is effective, removed from partisan considerations and requires lay representation on any commission set up for that purpose. (1970, expanded in 2009
  4. A non-partisan Evaluation Committee that issues public reports on judges’ performance of their duties based upon neutral criteria. (1970, expanded 2009)
  5. Public funding for judicial elections so long as contested elections exist. (2009)
  6. Continuing the option for the counties of Maryland to retain or abolish Orphan’s Court. (2010)
    (a)  Selecting Orphan Court Judges via non-partisan elections
    (b)  Selecting both attorneys and non-attorneys as Orphans Court judges.
    (c)  Changing the name of Orphan’s Court to more clearly define the scope of its duties. (2011)
  7. Eliminating partisan elections for selection of Clerk of the Court, Register of Wills
    and Sheriff.
  8. (no consensus reached on a method of selection) (2010)
 
Background: Since its study in the early 1960’s of the Judicial Article of the state constitution, LWVMD has continued to testify on issues affecting the judiciary, particularly the development of a unified judicial system and the merit selection and retention of judges. The 1990’s saw creation of the Commission on the Future of Maryland’s Courts which made numerous recommendations for legislative and administrative action. In 2009 an update of current positions and a new study on the selection of judges, retention election of judges, public financing of judicial elections and the financing of the judiciary, resulted in concurrence with in the positions proposed by the study committee, listed above. In 2010, a study of the financing of the Maryland Judiciary, a study of Orphans Court and the election/selection process of the administrative offices of the judiciary Clerk of the Court, Register of Page 7 Return to the Table of Contents Wills and Sheriff resulted in new consensus positions listed above. Position 6 c was proposed from the floor and adopted by the 2011 Convention.
Action:
  • Supported the merit selection and non-competitive merit retention of judges (1964).
  • Supported the constitutional amendment approved in 1970 which created the District Court of Maryland, despite disagreement with certain provisions. The League felt that this action removed justification for trial de novo (the right of an entirely new jury trial in a Circuit Court on appeal from the District Court), but in 1982, legislation to abolish it failed, although limitations were placed on its use.
  • Supported the consolidation of the six courts of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore into a Baltimore City Circuit Court. (1980 – approved as a Constitutional Amendment)
  • Supported a statewide uniform and unified judicial system, before the legislature and commissions, urging the state assumption of circuit court costs and a unified court system. (unification not achieved)
  • Supported an Executive Order which established a Judicial Nominating Commission (1970) and its subsequent expansion from 7 to 11 members who reflect race, gender, and geographic diversity. (1996 – Constitutional Amendment)
  • Supported legislation to establish a Family Court to handle family-related and juvenile cases (1996-1997 – not achieved).
  • Supported legislation to continue the Executive Committee of the Commission on the Future of Maryland’s Courts so that work could proceed to inform citizens about its recommendations and so that implementing legislation and rules could be prepared. (1997 – not achieved)
  • Supported legislation that would have made judicial elections non-partisan. Passed in the Senate, no action in the House. (2006 – not achieved)
  • Supported legislation that would have provided for retention elections for Circuit Court judges. The bill was withdrawn. (2007 – not achieved)
  • Supported nonpartisan elections for County Treasurers, Clerks of the Circuit Court and register of Wills. (not achieved - 2011)
  • Supported bills on the nonpartisan election of circuit court judges (2015 - not achieved)