§ 8-16.1-2. Judicial nominating commission.
(a) There is hereby established an independent nonpartisan judicial nominating commission which shall consist of nine (9) members, all of whom shall be residents of the state of Rhode Island, and who shall be appointed as follows:
(1) Within seven (7) days after June 2, 1994:
(i) The speaker of the house of representatives shall submit to the governor a list of at least three (3) attorneys;
(ii) The president of the senate shall submit to the governor a list of at least three (3) persons who may be attorneys and/or members of the public;
(iii) The speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate shall jointly submit to the governor a list of four (4) members of the public;
(iv) The minority leader of the house of representatives shall submit to the governor a list of at least three (3) members of the public; and
(v) The minority leader of the senate shall submit to the governor a list of at least three (3) members of the public.
(2) Within fourteen (14) days after June 2, 1994, the governor shall appoint to the commission:
(i) One person from each of the lists submitted in accordance with subsection (a)(1) of this section;
(ii) Three (3) attorneys, without regard to any of the lists; and
(iii) One member of the public, without regard to any of the lists.
(3) The governor and the nominating authorities hereunder shall exercise reasonable efforts to encourage racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within the commission.
(b) Members of the commission shall serve for terms of four (4) years, except that, of the members first appointed:
(1) The individual appointed from the list submitted by the minority leader of the house of representatives and one of the attorneys appointed by the governor without regard to any of the lists shall serve for one year;
(2) The individual appointed from the list submitted by the minority leader of the senate and one of the attorneys appointed by the governor without regard to any of the lists shall serve for two (2) years;
(3) The individual appointed from the list submitted jointly by the speaker of the house of representatives and by the president of the senate and the member of the public appointed by the governor without regard to any of the lists shall serve for three (3) years; and
(4) The individuals appointed from the lists submitted by the president of the senate and by the speaker of the house of representatives and one of the attorneys appointed by the governor without regard to any of the lists shall serve for four (4) years.
(c) No person shall be appointed at any time to serve more than one term as a member of the commission; provided, however, that a person initially appointed to serve twelve (12) months or less of a full four (4) year term may, upon expiration of that term, be reappointed to serve one full term; and provided further, however, that each member shall continue to serve until his or her successor is appointed and qualified. No commission member shall be a legislator, judge, or elected official, or be a candidate for any public office, or hold any compensated federal, state, or municipal public office or elected office in a political party during his or her tenure or for a period of one year prior to appointment. No member of the commission may hold any other public office (except that of notary public) under the laws of the United States, of this state, or of any other governmental entity for which monetary compensation is received. No members shall be eligible for appointment to a state judicial office during the period of time he or she is a commission member and for a period of one year thereafter. No two (2) or more members of the commission shall be members or employees of the same law firm, or employees of the same profit or nonprofit corporation. Vacancies other than those arising through the expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as vacancies due to the expiration of a term.
(d) A quorum consisting of five (5) members shall be necessary in order for the commission to conduct any business. All names submitted to the governor by the commission shall be approved by at least five (5) members of the commission voting in favor of each selection.
(e) The commission shall have the power to adopt rules and procedures which aid in its selection of the most highly qualified nominees for judicial office. The governor shall designate a member of the commission to serve as chairperson, who shall serve in that capacity for the duration of his or her tenure. All meetings of the commission shall be subject to the open meetings law as defined in chapter 46 of title 42.
(f) The commission is hereby authorized and empowered to investigate the personal background of each nominee as it relates to a determination of judicial fitness through the Rhode Island state police and the attorney general's office, and to require full financial disclosure under the provisions of chapter 14 of title 36.
(g) The commission shall direct the performance of such administrative duties as may be required for the effective discharge of the obligations granted to the commission, and is hereby empowered to engage the services of legal, secretarial, clerical, and investigative employees and to make such other expenditures as are necessary for the effective performance of its functions. Expenses for office space, staffing, and necessary monetary outlays shall be provided by the department of administration as a separate line item in the state budget under the term "judicial nominating commission."
(h) Each person appointed to the commission shall, prior to exercising any authority or assuming any duties as a member of the commission, take an engagement of office in accordance with § 36-1-2. The governor may remove a commission member from office for neglect of duty, malfeasance in office, or conviction of a criminal offense. After a commission member is notified of any allegations against her or him in writing, the commission member shall be entitled to one public hearing prior to removal by the governor.
(P.L. 1994, ch. 42, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 180, § 6; P.L. 2001, ch. 204, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 359, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 447, § 1.)