Nevada Judicial Appointment Amendment, Question 1 (2010)
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The measure called for the creation of a selection panel that would review and recommend candidates to the governor for appointment to open judicial seats. The governor would then have been in charge of appointing a candidate to the position for no more than 2 years after which a retention election would be held. They would have had to garner approximately 55% of the vote to stay in office. If the judge was retained they could proceed to fulfill the remainder of the 6 year term and face a retention election for a second term. If the voters rejected the judge in the first election, the process would have started from the beginning and another candidate would have been appointed.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
|Question 1 (Judicial Appointment)|
Text of measure
Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to provide for the appointment of Supreme Court justices and District Court judges by the Governor for their initial terms from lists of candidates nominated by the Commission on Judicial Selection, with subsequent retention of those justices and judges after independent performance evaluations and voter approval?
Amendment supporters argued that the appointment process would result in more qualified judges and would remove the influence of campaign money. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sent Nevada officials a letter in support of the proposal. She wrote, "Citizens can be confident that appointed judges are insulated from special interests who would seek to buy justice through campaign donations."
The proposed measure was co-authored by The Busick Group in 2006 with the direction of Sen. William Raggio. Also in support of the proposed measure was retired Nevada Supreme Court Justice Bill Maupin.
Irwin Molasky of Nevadans for Qualified Judges, a committee in support of the proposed measure argued that the measure would give the public more control in eliminating inadequate judges. "Arizona has had it for years. Nevada is way behind. This is our one-chance opportunity," said Molasky.
Tactics and strategies
In September 2010, supporters announced that they planned to step up their campaign efforts. Vice Chairman of Nevadans for Qualified Judges Irwin Molasky said that they planned to educate voters on the proposed plan.
Opponents, on the other hand, said that the amendment removed voting rights and placed the decision only in the hands of a few - the selection panel. "I’m against anything that alters the voters’ rights to pick judges. Judges should be held as accountable as any other public official," said Republican political consultant Sig Rogich. The Nevada Eagle Forum also opposed the change.
Commercials and videos
"Yes on Question 1" videos and commercials:
"No on Question 1" videos and commercials: None available
Media editorial positions
- The Reno Gazette-Journal was opposed to Question 1. "So, Strike One: Question 1 takes away voting rights and calls for a gubernatorial appointment instead. Do you believe there would be not politics involved there? How are those U.S. Supreme Court and District Court appointments working out for you? Strike Two: Nevada voters have consistently rejected any proposal that removes their right to vote...Strike Three: The question states the financial impact cannot be determined 'with any reasonable degree of certainty,'" said the editorial board.
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- On April 5-7, 2010 Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a poll, on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which found that 28% of polled registered voters were in favor of the proposed amendment, while 59% were opposed and 13% were undecided. A grand total of 625 registered voters were polled. The margin of error was +/- 4%.
- On July 12-14, 2010 Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a poll, on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV, Channel 8. The poll found that 27% of voters were in favor of the proposed measure, while 54% were opposed and 19% were undecided. A total of 625 voters were polled. According to reports, the margin of error was +/- 5%.
- On October 25-27, 2010 Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a poll, on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV, Channel 8. The poll revealed that 37% of polled registered voters support Question 1, while 46% were opposed and 17% were undecided. A total of 625 registered voters were polled. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|April 5-7, 2010||Mason-Dixon Polling & Research||28%||59%||13%||625|
|July 12-14, 2010||Mason-Dixon Polling & Research||27%||54%||19%||625|
|Oct. 25-27, 2010||Mason-Dixon Polling & Research||37%||46%||17%||625|
On October 25, 2010 Stones' Phones Inc., a company hired to program automated calls in support of Question 1, called an estimated 50,000 Nevadans between midnight and 1:15 a.m. The firm and the campaign group apologized for the incorrectly programmed calls. The company issued a follow-up call in the afternoon to residents in apology. The call included a phone number and email to lodge complaints.
The calls featured retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, however, following the mis-timed calls O'Connor released a statement saying she did not authorize the use of her comments for the automated calls. She said, "I did not authorize the use of my recorded statement as part of automated telephone calls to Nevada residents, and I regret that the statement was used in this way." O'Connor has been an active supporter of Question 1.
According to reports, on the call she said, "When you enter a court the last thing Nevadans want to worry about is whether the judge is more accountable to a campaign contributor or to a special interest group than to the law."
In response to O'Connor's support of the measure, some argued that it was a violation of the judicial code of conduct. Conservative legal groups expressed their concern regarding her activity. In response O'Connor said, "In addition, I view my efforts in support of judicial reform as consistent with the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges."
According to reports, the state of Nevada did not have rules or laws that governed when candidates or political committees could make calls to voters. Nevada voters, however, did have the option to add their name to a "do not call" list but it wasn't guaranteed, according to state officials, that they would't be contacted.
Path to the ballot
A majority vote was required in two successive sessions of the Nevada State Legislature. The proposed measure was approved by the state legislature in 2007 and 2009. In 2009, the Nevada Senate approved the legislation on March 25 after a 14-7 vote. The Nevada State Assembly voted 29-13 on May 20, 2009.
- CarsonNOW.org,"Debate Held on Ballot Measure to Change How Nevada Judges are Chosen," September 28, 2010
- Nevada News Bureau,"Debate Held On Ballot Measure To Change How Nevada Judges Are Chosen," September 28, 2010
- Reno Gazette-Journal,"Q&A: How Nevada's Ballot Question 1 will affect election of judges," September 22, 2010
- The Rebel Yell,"O’Connor to join UNLV panel on judicial merit selection," September 20, 2010
- Las Vegas Review-Journal,"JUDGING THE JUDGES 2010: Survey raises questions about women on the bench," May 11, 2010
- The Record-Courier,"Lawmakers approve four ballot questions," May 9, 2010
- Associated Press,"Justices making new push to abolish elected judges," December 11, 2009
- Legal Newsline,"O'Connor leads push against judicial elections," December 11, 2009
- Associated Press,"State panel sends four measures to November ballot," May 9, 2010
- Las Vegas Sun,"Lawmakers pave way for vote on appointing judges," June 6, 2009
- Information gathered via email communication with The Busick Group, co-authors of the proposed legislation, on September 14, 2010.
- Nevada Secretary of State,"Questions to Appear on the 2010 General Election Ballot," accessed September 27, 2010
- Legal Newsline,"O'Connor leads push against judicial elections," December 11, 2009
- Information gathered via email communication with The Busick Group on September 14, 2010.
- Reno Gazette-Journal,"Time running out for Nevada judicial appointment supporters," September 20, 2010
- Associated Press,"Backers Pressing Nevada Judicial Selection Measure," September 10, 2010
- Las Vegas Sun,"Proposal to appoint judges seen as hot issue," July 7, 2009
- The Reno Gazette-Journal,"Two Cents Worth: Ballot questions: Four No, one Yes...," October 22, 2010
- Las Vegas Review-Journal,"Poll: Many oppose plan to allow appointment of judges," April 12, 2010
- Las Vegas Review-Journal,"JULY 2010 POLLS," accessed July 19, 2010
- Las Vegas Review-Journal,"SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 2: Voters want final word on judges," July 19, 2010
- Las Vegas Review Journal,"OCTOBER 2010 POLLS," accessed November 1, 2010
- Las Vegas Review Journal,"STATEWIDE DECISIONS: Question 1," October 30, 2010
- Associated Press,"Apology for late calls on Nev. ballot question," October 25, 2010
- Politico,"O'Connor backs off robocalls," October 28, 2010
- CNN,"Retired justice at center of Nevada ballot initiative controversy," October 27, 2010
- Wall Street Journal,"O’Connor Robo-Call Blamed on Misunderstanding," October 27, 2010
- Associated Press,"Justice O'Connor says she regrets Nev. robo calls," October 28, 2010
- Reno Gazette-Journal,"Robocalls give voters late-night surprises," October 26, 2010
- Nevada State Legislature,"SJR 2," accessed September 15, 2010
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