Bill Description: Senate Bill 1148 would change the way judges appear on the ballot, how members of the Judicial Council are appointed, and how the governor may consider judicial vacancies.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency, accountability, or election integrity? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency, accountability, or election integrity?
Senate Bill 1148 would strike the portion of Section 34-905, Idaho Code, that identifies incumbent judges and justices on the ballot with the words “to succeed” followed by the name of the judicial official. This language in Idaho Code has long given an advantage to incumbents, and removing it will improve the fairness and transparency of the election process for judges.
The state Judicial Council creates a pool of candidates the governor picks from when it is time to appoint a new judge. This legislation would give the governor the ability to request the council for additional names of qualified candidates to consider. This lessens the likelihood that the Judicial Council could stack the deck to get a particular candidate or type of candidate through the selection process and on the bench.
The legislation would require the Judicial Council to supply the governor with a report, subject to public disclosure, explaining the qualifications it considered in making a judicial nomination for the governor to consider. Right now, very little information is revealed about judicial candidates being considered for appointment.