Senate Bill 25
149th General Assembly (2017 - 2018)
Enact w/o Sign 4/6/17
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT CONCURRING IN A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE IV OF THE DELAWARE CONSTITUTION RELATING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES.
This Act is the second leg of a Constitutional amendment to lengthen the time period during which the Governor must appoint a judicial officer following the occurrence of a vacancy, thereby giving the Governor and State Senate more flexibility in the consideration of vacancies occurring when the State Senate is not in session while preserving the Delaware tradition of quickly filling judicial vacancies. The first leg, Senate Bill No. 275 from the 148th General Assembly, was adopted by two-thirds of the members elected to the General Assembly and publicized in accordance with Article XVI, § 1 of the Delaware Constitution. From 1897 until 1983, the Delaware Constitution provided that the Governor shall submit his or her appointment to fill a vacancy to a constitutional court within 30 calendar days of a vacancy when the State Senate was not in session. In 1983, the timeframe for the Governor to make an appointment when the State Senate was not in session was lengthened to 60 days, a timeframe for the Governor to make an appointment when the State Senate was in session was added and set at 60 days, and a provision permitting judges to hold over in office for 60 days after their term expired was added. Since 1897, the number of constitutional courts and the number of judges on those courts has increased. As a result, the Governor must now call special sessions of the State Senate for the consideration of judicial nominees more frequently than in the past. This Act provides more flexibility to the Governor and State Senate in two respects. First, it extends the 60 day period after the occurrence of a vacancy to a 90 day period. The 90 day period strikes a balance between the need to have judicial positions filled quickly to avoid operational disruptions in the court system and the desire to have more flexibility when the General Assembly is not in session. Second, the Act clarifies that the Governor and State Senate may consider a nomination 30 days prior to the occurrence of the vacancy. The Constitution was previously silent on the consideration of nominations prior to the occurrence of a vacancy. This Act also modifies the time period during which an incumbent judicial officer whose term has expired may hold over in office after the expiration of his or her term from 60 days to 90 days to match the vacancy timeframes. This Act confirms that an incumbent judge whose term has expired has the option to hold over in office for that 90 day period, but is not required to do so. Finally, this Act makes additional technical corrections to conform existing law on lines 42 through 44, line 46, lines 56 through 58, and line 60 to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.