Judicial Selection Coalition

This program was active from 2006–2010 but is now inactive.

The coalition was made up of organizations and interested individuals with concern about the current process for selecting judges in Washington State. Each organization considered and acted upon proposed initiatives as recommended by representatives through meetings held approximately monthly.

Some of the expressed concerns that gave rise to this coalition effort were: the increasingly partisan nature of judicial campaigns; the escalating costs of funding a judicial election campaign; the lack of judicial campaign financing limits; the growing amounts of special interest money being injected into judicial campaigns; the lack of sufficient standards for eligibility for judicial office; the relative shortage of useful information available to voters regarding judicial candidates and the difficulties of ferreting out such information; and the skewing of voting results by irrelevant factors such as ballot placement and commonness of names of judicial candidates.

One of the principal activities of the coalition was sponsorship of www.votingforjudges.org, a nonpartisan information source about all judicial races in the state of Washington.

Judicial Selection Coalition Participants

The following organizations were participating in the coalition:

  • American Judicature Society
  • Asian Bar Association
  • Defender Association
  • King County Bar Association
  • League of Women Voters of Washington
  • Loren Miller Bar Association
  • Municipal League of King County
  • Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
  • Washington State Trial Lawyers Association
  • Washington Women Lawyers

More Information on Judicial Selection

The Washington Judicial Selection Coalition is not the only group considering how best to select state judges. What follows are web sites and articles that provide additional information on this topic from within Washington and around the nation. Where materials are available electronically, the citation contains a hyperlink.

  • American Judicature Society Judicial Selection in the States Project
    The Hunter Center for Judicial Selection "conducts, synthesizes, and disseminates empirical research on a wide range of judicial selection issues…. The center acts as a clearinghouse of information on judicial selection for state court administrators, lawmakers, the media, the legal and academic communities, and court reform organizations." Among other things, the Center runs the Judicial Selection in the States Project. Information provided by the Project includes "methods of selecting, retaining, and removing of judges; successful and failed reform efforts; the roles of parties, interest groups, and professional organizations in selecting judges; and the diversity of the bench."
    Materials available from this site include (as described by the Project itself):
    • Judicial Selection in the United States: A Special Report describes the historical evolution of judicial selection in the United States.
    • Judicial Selection in the States: Appellate and General Jurisdiction Courts is a set of tables that provide basic information about the initial selection and subsequent retention of state judges.
    • Judicial Selection Reform: Examples from Six States examines successful judicial selection reform efforts in six states, discussing the nature of each reform and its implementation in other states, the events that provided the impetus for reform, and the actors who were instrumental in bringing about the reform.
    • Merit Selection: The Best Way to Choose the Best Judges describes the merit selection process and its advantages over other methods of judicial selection.
  • Justice At Stake Campaign
    Justice at Stake is a nonpartisan campaign whose partners "educate the public and work for reforms to keep politics and special interests out of the courtroom." JAS closely tracks judicial elections and provides state-by-state analyses and national summaries, including The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2004: Report on State Supreme Court Elections.
  • Brennan Center Fair Courts Project
    The Brennan Center Fair Courts Project focuses on "improving judicial selection processes (including elections), increasing diversity on the bench, preserving judicial independence and accountability, and keeping courts in balance with other governmental branches." The Project web site contains a searchable database with summaries of law review and political science articles, as well as links to Project reports and publications, including The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2002: How The Threat To Fair And Impartial Courts Spread To More States In 2002.
  • American Bar Association Standing Committee on Judicial Independence
    Among other materials regarding judicial independence and diversity, the Committee’s web site contains a link to its 2003 report, Justice in Jeopardy, which "attempts to break the deadlock in the debate over appointment versus election of state judges."

On November 11, 2005, the Judicial Selection Coalition hosted the Washington State Summit on Judicial Selection and Judicial Independence at the Seattle University School of Law.

The following are materials from the event:

  • Megan Nichols, Lawyers: Appoint Appeals Judges, Mobile Register (Aug. 8, 2005)
  • State Bar of Georgia Court Futures Committee, Paths to Justice: The Future of Judicial Selection in Georgia (May 2005)
  • Report of Missouri Bar Commission on the Independence of the Judiciary (2005)
New York
  • New York County Lawyers’ Association, Report On Non-Retention/Retention Elections (May 2005)
South Dakota

Working to improve the administration of justice is an important part of the King County Bar Association’s mission.

KCBA has evaluated and rated judicial performance since 1948 through surveys of current judicial officers, ratings for those seeking appointment or election to the bench, and monitoring of fair campaign practices and hosting of candidate forums.

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