Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission

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The Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission oversees the judicial selection of all judges in Rhode Island. It works to evaluate candidates for judicial vacancies and then presents a list to the governor of the highest qualified applicants.

When a court seat becomes vacant, the commission is notified and begins accepting applications. It has a duty to advertise the vacancy, as well. It often does so through news media outlets. The commission sets a deadline for submission of applications. The commission does not interview all applicants, only ones that it deems to be qualified. The commission also performs extensive background checks on the applicants. Further, the members may adopt rules and procedures to aid in its evaluation of candidates without seeking approval from another state body.[1] It then submits a list to the governor of three to five names, these being the most qualified applicants, from which the governor makes an appointment to fill the seat.[2]

For Supreme Court vacancies, the commission must submit three to five names to the governor within 90 days of notice of the vacancy. The names must also be made public. The governor then must nominate one of the individuals on the list for appointment to the high court. The nomination must be confirmed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives and Rhode Island Senate.[3]


The commission is composed of nine members. Five of the members must be attorneys. Various elected officials must submit lists of nominations for commission members. The governor receives those lists and then makes his selection for the commission seat. The speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives submits a list of three attorneys. The president of the Rhode Island Senate also submits three names, but these individuals may be lawyers or lay persons. Another list is prepared by the speaker and president of the Senate jointly. This list contains four names and must be lay persons. Finally, the minority leaders in both the House and Senate are also allowed to submit lists. Each submits a list of three names, and these individuals must be lay persons, as well.

The governor then picks one name off each of the above lists for appointment to the commission, for a total of five individuals. Next, he or she must select three attorneys and one lay person "without regard to any of the lists."[1]

The commission members serve staggered four-year terms. Additionally, members cannot serve in any other public office while a member of this commission, nor may they be appointed to a judicial vacancy.[1]

Current members

Current members of nominating commission[4]
Commissioner Appointing office Term ends
Louise Durfee, Chairperson Governor June 15, 2015
Robert Silva, Esquire Senate president June 15, 2010
Richard M. McAuliffe, Jr. House speaker June 15, 2013
E. Colby Cameron, Esquire Governor June 15, 2014
Norman L. Landroche, Jr., Esquire House speaker June 15, 2010
Cheryl S. Haynes SPHR Governor June 15, 2017
Lorraine N. Lalli, Esquire Governor June 15, 2016
Vince Watchorn Senate minority leader June 15, 2016
Scott Rabideau House minority leader June 15, 2015

Evaluation criteria

Under the Rhode Island Constitution, the commission should consider the following qualities when evaluating a judge. The commission is not limited, however, to considering just these.

  • Intellect
  • Ability
  • Temperament
  • Impartiality
  • Diligence
  • Experience
  • Maturity
  • Education
  • Publications
  • Record of public, community, and government service[5]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission."

Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission - Google News Feed

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