Trump: Lawmakers will take up nonpartisan election of judges during session

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The incoming chairperson of the state Senate Judiciary Committee is promising his committee will take up legislation allowing for the nonpartisan election of judges in West Virginia during the upcoming Regular Legislative Session.

“The partisan affiliation of judicial candidates, judicial officers is really immaterial to their responsibilities and duties,” incoming state Sen. Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15) said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“To me, it doesn’t give you any insight about the individual that is useful or valuable to the decision you’re going to make about whether or not that person would make a good judicial officer.”

Currently in West Virginia, judicial candidates file with political party affiliations for judicial seats. Judges run as Democrats, Republicans, independents or with other political parties.

As Trump is proposing, judicial candidates running for magistrate position all the way up to seats on the state Supreme Court would be party-less and, because of that, there would be no primary election. Instead, voters would see a separate ballot for judicial candidates in either May or November of election years.

Similar proposals have not picked up traction during past legislative sessions.

Trump, a former House Minority Leader, promised that would not be the case this year with Republicans in charge of both the state Senate and state House of Delegates for the first time in more than eight decades.

“Of course, I can’t predict whether it will pass or not, but it will be the subject of debate and discussion and consideration in the coming legislative session,” Trump said.

The 2015 Regular Legislative Session opens on Jan. 14 at the State Capitol.

More than two dozen other states already use nonpartisan elections for judicial selections in varying degrees and for different positions. In addition to partisan and nonpartisan elections, judicial selection methods in parts of the U.S. include merit selections and appointments.

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