Malia Reddick on Maintaining Confidence in Delaware's Judicial Nominating Commission System

In November, Delaware Law Weekly published an article discussing how judicial vacancies are filled in Delaware. Specifically, the article focused on the state's Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) and whether it is appropriate for members of the JNC to resign and then apply for judicial positions. The practice is more common than one would expect; in fact, two members of the JNC resigned this year to pursue judgeships.

The article featured discussions from experts in judicial selection, including IAALS's own Malia Reddick. Reddick spoke to the problems created by a process where commission members can resign and then immediately apply for judicial positions.

Part of the JNC's purpose is that the public can have confidence that individuals are not appointed because of some inside connection, but because they are the best candidates involved in the process. Someone nominated by their very recent colleagues doesn't inspire confidence in the quality of the process.

Many states, 10 in fact, have rules prohibiting commission members from pursuing vacancies immediately after their resignation, ranging from one to five years. In order to preserve the public's faith in the selection process, Delaware should do the same according to Reddick. "I think a rule should definitely be in place to avoid any problem in the future," she said. "It's largely a matter of public trust that the nominating commission is above-board and there are no back-room deals. It [would be] an important rule."

Riley Combelic is a third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.