Former Judicial Nominating Commissioner Debunks Myths Surrounding Process

In a recent Wyoming Lawyer article, former Judicial Nominating Commissioner Jeremy Michaels shared his observations from his tenure on the Commission and addressed some of the myths that might keep attorneys from pursuing Wyoming judgeships. Michaels served a four-year term with two other attorneys and three lay people. The Chief Justice serves as Chairperson in case there is a tie. 

One rumor Michaels discussed is that the nomination process is inherently political. He affirmed that neither he nor his fellow Commissioners ever inquired about or considered the political opinions of any candidate because it simply is not important for the job.

"The fact is, we don't care. We are looking for the best and the brightest, and a political litmus test of any type would immediately taint the decision-making process."

Another common assumption is that an attorney must be well-connected in the legal community to have a chance of becoming a judge. The small size of the state's bar membership naturally leads to a tight-knit community, but the Commission is more concerned with the candidate's character than who he or she knows. Recommendation letters from experienced and respected jurists praising a candidate's work ethic, intelligence, and reputation are far more valuable to the Commission.

Michaels also discusses issues of confidentiality, experience, and the interview process in the full article.

Heather Buchanan is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law Schooland contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.