October 5, 2020
In a general election, you probably have a good sense of the top races, the candidates, and their positions. But what about some of the down-ballot races? What about “judicial retentions?” If you aren’t familiar with individual judges, how do you make an informed decision about whether they should be retained?
One resource is the Judicial Advisory Poll, which the Wyoming State Bar conducts every year to obtain attorneys’ feedback about judges’ performance as well as to learn whether or not attorneys think those judges standing for retention should remain in office. You can check out the 2020 poll results and learn more about the polling methods here.
First, some background:
- Wyoming judges are appointed by a process in which the Judicial Nominating Commission screens applicants before recommending three qualified candidates to the Governor. The Governor then makes his selection from those three candidates. Both attorneys and non-attorneys serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission.
- Wyoming’s five Supreme Court Justices must stand for retention every eight years. This means that voters go to the polls during each General Election and decide whether or not those justices standing for retention should be retained in office.
- District Court Judges in Wyoming stand for retention every six years.
- Circuit Court Judges in Wyoming face a retention vote every four years.
- The poll only includes the question regarding a judge’s retention if that judge stands for retention that particular year.
- If the results of the General Election indicate that a judge should not be retained in office, the Judicial Nominating Commission would then advertise for applicants to fill the vacancy.
This year, two Wyoming Supreme Court Justices are standing for retention: Justice Lynne Boomgaarden and Justice Kari Jo Gray. In addition to checking out the poll results, you can learn more about Wyoming’s Supreme Court Justices and District Court and Circuit Court judges on the Judicial Branch’s homepage.
If you have questions about the Judicial Advisory Poll, you can reach out to Sharon Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar, at (307) 432-2102. And if you have questions about registering to vote or casting your ballot, please drop us a line at info(at)equalitystate.org!
And, as always, make a plan to vote!