Interim Appointment

Interim Appointment in the United States

Process by which state judicial vacancies are filled between elections. An interim appointment is made by the state’s governor and occurs only in states that use election as the formally adopted method of judicial selection. Interim appointments are highly partisan, although most governors take into account how prospective nominees are viewed by the legal profession. Judges appointed on an interim basis take office immediately upon appointment and possess full judicial power. In most states, however, these judges must face election either for a full term or the balance of the unexpired term at the next general election.

See Also

Executive Appointment (Judicial Personnel issue) Recess Appointment (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

The interim appointment seriously compromises elective selection of judges. It allows governors to appoint many (if not most) judges in a state and gives governors a dominant role injudicial selection. This is true for at least two reasons. First, the opportunity for governors to make interim appointments is high. Judicial terms tend to be lengthy, usually six or eight years. The longer the term, the greater the likelihood of vacancy. Second, once interim judges are appointed, they enjoy all the advantages of incumbency. Data show they tend to retain these judgeships when elections do take place. Indeed, most of the appointed judges are not even opposed in the first election. As a consequence, high proportions of judges in election states are likely to have first attained the bench by appointment and not election. For the twenty-two states that elect at least some of their judges, it is necessary to recognize the overlap of elective and appointive selection techniques. Interim appointments do not occur at the federal level.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Interim Appointment from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Interim Appointment: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Interim Appointment. This part provides references, in relation to Interim Appointment, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Interim Appointment by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Interim Appointment and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Interim Appointment or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Interim Appointment and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Interim Appointment. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Interim Appointment should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Interim Appointment when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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