150.3 Terms of Office
150.5 Evaluation of candidates
150.9 Conflicts of interest
It is essential to the effectiveness of an elected judiciary that qualified candidates obtain judicial office. Yet the public frequently is unaware of the qualifications of candidates who run for judicial office, because the candidate-designation process often is not conducted in public view. The public will have greater confidence in the judicial election process if they know that judicial candidates were screened by independent screening panels and found to possess the qualities necessary for effective judicial performance.
There shall be an Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission established in each judicial district which shall review the qualifications of candidates for public election to the Supreme Court, County Court, Surrogate's Court, Family Court, New York City Civil Court, District Courts and City Courts.
(a) Each qualification commission shall have 15 members appointed as follows:
(1) The Chief Judge of the State of New York shall select five members, two of whom shall be non-lawyers;
(2) The Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division encompassing the appropriate district commission shall select five members, two of whom shall be non-lawyers;
(3) The President of the New York State Bar Association shall select one member;
(4) Four local bar associations, located within the appropriate judicial district and designated by the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the appropriate district, shall each select one member.
(5) For purposes of section 150.2(a)(6) only, commissioner appointees of local bar associations shall be concurrently appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge.
(6) The chairs and members of the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions are expressly authorized to participate in a State-sponsored volunteer program within the meaning of Public Officers Law section 17(l)(a).
(b) The Chief Judge of the State of New York shall designate the chair of each commission from the above membership.
(c) Commissioners must be residents of or have a place of business in the judicial district in which they serve.
(d) In making appointments to the commissions, each appointing authority shall give consideration to achieving broad representation of the community, including geographic, racial, ethnic and gender diversity.
(e) Commission members shall act independently and impartially.
Added (a)(5) & (a)(6) Jan. 31, 2014
(a) Except as set forth below, each member shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority for a term of three years, and shall be eligible to serve for one additional three-year term. Following completion of two terms, a member may be newly appointed by a separate appointing authority.
(b) Initial terms of commissioners shall be staggered so that five commissioners will serve for an initial term of one year, five for an initial term of two years, and five for an initial term of three years.
(c) If a commissioner does not complete the appointed term, the appointing authority shall appoint someone to serve on an interim basis for the remainder of the term.
(d) If a vacancy is not filled by an appointing authority within 30 days after written notification to the appointing authority of its creation, the Chief Judge may fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.
(e) No term of office shall extend beyond December 31, 2018.
Amended (a) on May. 24, 2013
Added (e) on April 5, 2017
One half of the members of the full commission shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting any business.
Amended on May. 24, 2013
(a) The qualifications commissions shall evaluate candidates for elected public office for the courts set forth in section 150.1 to determine whether they are highly qualified, qualified, or not qualified for the office to which they seek election.
(b) The criteria for evaluation shall include professional ability; character, independence and integrity; reputation for fairness and lack of bias; and temperament, including courtesy and patience. Candidates found highly qualified must be preeminent members of the legal profession in their community; have outstanding professional ability, work ethic, intellect, judgment and breadth of experience relevant to the office being sought; possess the highest reputation for honesty, integrity and good character, including the absence of any significant professional disciplinary record; and either demonstrate or exhibit the highest capacity for distinguished judicial temperament, including courtesy, patience, independence, impartiality and respect for all participants in the legal process.
(c) Where a quorum exists, a majority vote of the members present shall be required to find a candidate qualified for judicial office. A two-thirds majority of the members present shall be required to find a candidate highly qualified for judicial office.
(d) All votes on a candidate's qualifications shall be by secret ballot.
(e) Each commission shall publish an alphabetical listing of the names of all candidates that it has found highly qualified, qualified or not qualified for election to judicial office.
(a) The Chief Administrator of the Courts shall establish, with the approval of the Administrative Board of the Courts, uniform procedures for the operation of the commissions. These procedures shall include:
(1) Wide dissemination by the commission of notice wherever an open judicial position is to be filled by election;
(2) Use of written application forms;
(3) Investigation of the background and qualifications of applicants;
(4) A process for reconsideration upon application of the applicant.
(b) A commission may designate subcommittees to investigate the background and qualifications of applicants and to report to the full committee.
Amended (a)(4) on Jan. 29, 2008
Commission members shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to reimbursement for any necessary expenses incurred by them in connection with the performance of their duties.
Except as provided in section 150.5(e), all papers filed with or generated by the commission and all proceedings of the commission shall be confidential.
(a) No member of a qualifications commission shall be a candidate for judicial office or shall support or act on behalf of any candidate for judicial office.
(b) A member shall recuse himself or herself from participating in a commission proceeding where the member has a relationship with the candidate, or with another candidate competing for the same judicial office, which could reasonably render the member's participation unfair to the public or any candidate, or which might cause others to perceive that such participation is inappropriate or unfair. In the event that it cannot obtain a quorum due to the recusal of members under this section, a commission may, as it deems appropriate:
(1) transfer the application(s) of the candidate(s) affected to another commission within the same Judicial Department for evaluation; or
(2) permit temporary service on the commission by a member or members of another commission within the same Judicial Department for the consideration of such application(s).
(c) The following persons shall not be eligible to serve as a member of a qualifications commission:
(1) Any person who presently holds or has held a political party elective office within the past three years, other than a county committee member;
(2) Any person who was a candidate for or who has held elective public office during the three years preceding the year of commission service, or is presently a candidate for public office;
(3) Any person who is an employee of the courts; and
(4) Any person who has been found guilty of professional misconduct or of a class B misdemeanor or more serious crime (or the equivalent under the law of any other jurisdiction).
Amended (c)(1) & (c)(2) on Jan. 29, 2008
Amended (b) on Jun. 21, 2011
Uniform Guidelines and Procedures for the Operation of Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions
This Appendix sets forth uniform guidelines and procedures for the operation of the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions established pursuant to Part 150 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator.
Section 1. Notice of Open Judicial Positions
Each commission shall provide to all bar associations, the media and the public, within the judicial district in which the commission is established, notice of current and impending judicial vacancies that are to be filled by election in the courts in that district set forth in section 150.1 of the Chief Administrator’s Rules. The notice shall also contain information regarding the commission’s role and procedures.
Section 2. Meetings of the Commissions
A. The commissions shall meet at regularly scheduled intervals throughout the calendar year and may meet at such other times as the work of the commission may require.
B. Commission members may attend meetings in person or by video or telephone conference.
Section 3. Scope of the Commissions’ Determinations
A. The commissions shall determine whether a candidate is highly qualified, qualified, or not qualified for election to the judicial office (e.g., Supreme Court) in which a vacancy exists.
B. Any candidate found highly qualified or qualified for election to a judicial office shall be deemed so qualified for that judicial office for three years in the absence of any new information that may have a negative effect on his or her qualifications and background.
C. Any candidate not found qualified or highly qualified for election to judicial office shall be deemed not to be qualified for that judicial office for one year from the date of submission of the candidate's application to the commission.
D. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no determination of a candidate's qualifications shall have force or effect after December 31, 2018.
Section 4. Use of Subcommittees
A. The commissions may establish subcommittees of no fewer than three commission members to aid the commission in investigating the backgrounds and qualifications of candidates and to report to the full committee.
B. Such subcommittees shall meet to the extent necessary to complete their assigned duties.
Section 5. Investigation of Candidates’ Qualifications and Background
A. Each candidate shall submit to the appropriate commission a completed application, on a form promulgated by the Chief Administrator and approved by the Administrative Board, that will provide information for the evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications and background.
1. The application shall include items designed to elicit information from the candidates concerning: professional ability, work ethic, character, independence, decisiveness, fairness, integrity, docket management and case disposition skills, temperament, respect for litigants and attorneys, legal experience, education, and scholarship.
2. The application shall also inquire whether the candidate has completed the education program for judicial candidates established by section 100.5(A)(2)(f) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator and, if not, when and how that program is expected to be completed.
3. The application shall be a continuing application and shall require all candidates to immediately submit to the commission any change of circumstances that would substantially change any information previously provided.
B. The commission shall undertake an investigation of the candidates’ qualifications and background.
1. If the candidate is or has been a judge, these steps may include, but not be limited to:
a. Ascertaining the view of attorneys who have appeared before the candidate;
b. Ascertaining the views of Administrative or Supervising Judges familiar with the candidate’s work performance, professional ability and character;
c. Searching records for activity with the Commission on Judicial Conduct involving the candidate;
d. In the case of a judge who has presided over criminal or Family Court matters, ascertaining the views of the appropriate public defender or Legal Aid Society, District Attorney’s office and Family Court agencies;
e. Reviewing professional writings of the candidate, including opinions;
f. Reviewing the disposition of appeals from the candidate’s orders and judgments; and
g. Reviewing data regarding docket management and case disposition.
2. If the candidate is currently practicing law, or is a person whose current judicial experience is less than one year, these steps may include, but not be limited to:
a. Ascertaining the views of judicial or quasi-judicial officers before whom a candidate has appeared;
b. Ascertaining the views of attorneys who have either appeared opposite the candidate in a litigated matter, or who have otherwise had substantial experience with a candidate;
c. Searching records for activity with the appropriate Departmental Disciplinary Committees involving the candidate;
d. Ascertaining the views of colleagues with whom the candidate has served on state or local bar association committees;
e. Ascertaining the views of representatives of social, civic, cultural or charitable groups to which the candidate belongs;
f. Ascertaining the views of other attorneys who have been in a position to supervise or otherwise evaluate the candidate’s performance and his or her work product; and
g. Reviewing any professional writings of the candidate that may have a bearing on his or her judicial performance, including briefs and articles.
C. The commission may personally interview the candidate.
1. Consistent with the restrictions in section 100.5(A)(2)(d) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, candidates shall not be asked any questions in the personal interview that would require them to pledge or commit to a position on any matter or issue that might come before them as a judge.
2. Candidates shall not be asked any question inquiring into their political affiliations.
3. The commission shall not permit an announced candidate for a specific judicial office to withdraw his or her application for evaluation by the commission once a personal interview has commenced.
Section 6. Results of Evaluation Process
A. Each commission shall notify each candidate, in writing, whether the candidate has been found to be highly qualified, qualified, or not qualified for election to the judicial office, or has not complied with the commission's evaluation process. The commission's written notice informing a candidate that he or she has been found highly qualified or qualified for election to the judicial office shall be accompanied by a statement of ethical guidelines addressing the permitted uses of the commission's rating in any campaign for judicial office.
B. Pursuant to section 150.5(e) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, each commission shall publish at such times as it may determine, but not less than annually, an alphabetical list of those candidates found highly qualified, qualified and not qualified for election to judicial offices.
1. The commission shall make the list available to the public, including but not limited to publishing the list in local newspapers and notifying bar associations and other civic groups.
2. There shall be no communication to the public regarding those candidates who did not participate in the commission's evaluation process, nor shall the commission provide any additional comment or information regarding any candidate other than the written notice provided for herein.
Section 7. Requests for Reconsideration
A. Any candidate not found qualified for election to a judicial office may request reconsideration by the commission by making a written request to the commission's chair within seven business days following the date of receipt of notification of the commission's decision.
B. In support of a reconsideration application, the candidate may submit additional material and may request an interview with the commission.
C. The commission shall advise the candidate promptly, in writing, after its determination of the candidate's application upon reconsideration.
D. In the event the candidate, upon reconsideration, is found highly qualified or qualified for the judicial office, the commission shall add his or her name to the publicly available list of candidates so designated. The commission shall also provide the candidate with a statement of ethical guidelines addressing the permitted use of the commission's rating.
Section 8. Records Retention
All records considered by a commission with respect to a candidate shall be retained by the commission for at least three years from the date of its final determination for that candidate.
Added Appendix A on Feb. 13, 2007
Edited Sections 3, 5, 6, 7 and added Section 8 to Appendix A on Jan. 29, 2008
Added Appendix A, Section 6 (C) on Mar 24, 2010
Amended Appendix A, Sections 3, 6, & 7 on Mar. 18, 2012
Added Appendix A, Section 3 (D) on April 5, 2017