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Executive Order 12097—Merit Selection of United States District Judges

November 08, 1978


By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States of America, including Section 7(a) of the Omnibus Judgeship Act of 1978, providing that the President shall promulgate and publish standards and guidelines for the selection of nominees for United States district court judgeships, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1-1. Nomination of District Judges.

1-101. Whenever a vacancy occurs in a district court of the United States, the President shall nominate as district judge to fill that vacancy a person whose character, experience, ability, and commitment to equal justice under law qualifies that person to serve in the federal judiciary.

1-102. The Attorney General shall assist the President by recommending to the President persons to be considered for appointment who are qualified to be district judges and by evaluating potential nominees. The Attorney General shall receive recommendations of such persons from any person, commission or organization.

1-103. The use of commissions to notify the public of vacancies and to make recommendations for district judge is encouraged. The Attorney General shall make public the suggested guidelines for such commissions.

1-104. Before making recommendations, the Attorney General shall consider whether:

(a) Public notice of the vacancy has been given and an affirmative effort has been made, in the case of each vacancy, to identify qualified candidates, including women and members of minority groups;

(b) The selection process was fair and reasonable;

(c) The person or persons recommended meet the standards for evaluation set forth in Section 1-2 of this Order.

1-105. In evaluating proposed nominees, consideration will be given to reports of Department of Justice investigations and all other relevant information concerning potential nominees and their qualifications.

1-2. Standards for Evaluating Proposed Nominees.

1-201. The standards to be used in determining whether a person is qualified to serve as a district judge are whether that person:

(a) Is a citizen of the United States, is a member of a bar of a state, territory, possession or the District of Columbia, and is in good standing in every bar in which that person is a member;

(b) Possesses, and has a reputation for, integrity, good character, and common sense;

(c) Is, and has a reputation for being, fair, experienced, even-tempered and free of biases against any class of citizens or any religious or racial group;

(d) Is of sound physical and mental health;

(e) Possesses and has demonstrated commitment to equal justice under law;

(f) Possesses and has demonstrated outstanding legal ability and competence, as evidenced by substantial legal experience, ability to deal with complex legal problems, aptitude for legal scholarship and writing, and familiarity with courts and their processes;

(g) Has the ability and the willingness to manage complicated pretrial and trial proceedings, including the ability to weigh conflicting testimony and make factual determinations, and to communicate skillfully with jurors and witnesses. 1-3. Amendments of Existing Orders.

1-301. Section 3(b) of Executive Order 12059 of May 11, 1978 is amended to read as follows:

"(b) The Panel for the District of Columbia Circuit shall have the additional function of recommending nominees for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In exercising this function, the panel shall use the standards set forth in Executive Order 12097 and shall forward its recommendations to the Attorney General.".

1-302. Executive Order 12084, of September 27, 1978 is amended in the following respects:

(1) Section 1-202(d) is amended to read as follows:

"(d) report to the Attorney General, within the time specified in the notification, the results of its activities, including a list of persons whom the Commission considers to be best qualified to fill the vacancy.".

(2) Section 1-203 is amended to read as follows:

"1-203. In evaluating potential nominees, the Commission shall use the standards prescribed in Executive Order 12097.".


The White House,

November 8, 1978.

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 2:50 p.m., November 8, 1978]

Jimmy Carter, Executive Order 12097—Merit Selection of United States District Judges Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243977

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