Terms of Endearment? Initial appointments for appellate
court judges vary dramatically across the states, ranging in length from
one year to a life appointment. States that use merit selection methods
typically appoint judges on a meritocratic basis for a short period of
initial service. Judges then face retention elections in which the
public votes to retain or remove them. Merit selection is today the most
common method of selection. As more states consider judicial selection
reform, some version of merit selection is often the reform of choice.
Legislative or executive appointment is the least common selection
method across the states, despite the national model of presidential
appointment of federal judges. Many states still use judicial election,
either partisan or nonpartisan, to select appellate judges. Texas
elects all but Municipal judges in partisan elections.