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Preparing to Question Applicants

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Public hearings and interviews are more productive if the commissioners are well prepared. Prepare the questions beforehand. Some questions are asked of all applicants for all judgeships. Some questions might be asked for only a particular applicant or vacancy. A review of the applications likely will lead to questions designed for a particular applicant.

Applicants must be treated fairly, but commissioners are encouraged to conduct aggressive questioning of the potential judges. Judges face the stress of decisions affecting the lives and property of other people. The commissioners have a responsibility to assess the ability of the applicants to resolve close questions under stress.

Phrasing of questions is important. The commissioners may question the applicants concerning social and political issues, but the questions should be phrased to avoid opinion shopping or reducing the interview to a political interrogation. The questions should be phrased to elicit an applicant's knowledge and understanding of important issues. Commissioners also should not hesitate to inquire about an applicant's qualifications for a position on the bench.

Each commission is responsible for developing its own set of questions suitable to the particular court and applicant.

This page was last modified on Monday, December 3, 2012