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State of Georgia

Judicial Selection in the States: Georgia

Overview

News

A plan to restructure North Carolina s entire judicial election map was approved in committee earlier this week but appears to have been blocked from...

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News reports indicate that at least two members of the New Jersey Senate plan to introduced a constitutional amendment to require New Jersey supreme court...

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When Texas chief justice in his State of the Judiciary address brought up the issue of ending straight ticket voting (STV) for judicial races I...

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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.