University of Denver

Legislature Leaves Selection Process for Appellate Courts in Limbo

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

The Tennessee legislature ended its 2013 session without renewing the state's judicial nominating commission, which screens applicants for appellate court vacancies and recommends the best qualified candidates to the governor for appointment. The commission expires on June 30, and as of July 1, there will be no process in place for filling vacancies on the supreme court, court of appeals, and court of criminal appeals. The legislature also adjourned without renewing the judicial performance evaluation commission, which now enters a one-year sunset period during which it will evaluate and make retention recommendations for the August 2014 elections—when all appellate judges will be on the ballot. Then in November 2014, voters will decide whether to move to a modified federal process for selecting appellate judges.