Above: Gov. Doug Ducey poses with Andrew Gould, left, and John Lopez IV, right, his two picks for an expanded Supreme Court.
Apropos to today’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in which Republicans are clutching their pearls that Democrats might “stack the court” in response to the actual years-long effort to stack the court by Republicans, local Reporter Hank Stephenson writing at POLITICO reports on Where Court Packing Is Already Happening – Arizona:
Arizona’s Supreme Court had five judges for 56 years. But on December 19, 2016, thanks to a GOP-authored bill that was opposed by every Democrat in the state Legislature, Republican Governor Doug Ducey held a ceremony in the Old Capitol building to swear in a sixth justice, and then a seventh.
[Andre W. Gould and John R. Lopez IV, both on the judicial retention ballot in 2020].
In all, Ducey has appointed five of the seven justices on the state court, taking a personal interest in vetting candidates with questions designed to ferret out a fidelity to textualism and an inclination to uphold, rather than overturn or tinker with, the law. His appointments, including the addition of the two new justices, have eliminated the court’s progressive caucus and swung it from a more moderate conservative tilt to one that emphasizes libertarianism, populism, and law and order, in line with Ducey’s own views. And the ages of its younger members mean the court likely will stay that way for years.
As Democrats in Washington debate expanding the nation’s Supreme Court beyond nine justices if they win the November election—and many political observers react with horror, either real or feigned, at such a violation of American norms—much less understood is that these changes are not uncommon at the state level. According to Duke University law professor Marin K. Levy, at least 10 states have attempted to change the size of their courts over the past decade, with Arizona and one other state—Georgia—succeeding. And most of these efforts were spearheaded by Republicans.
How has it gone? As the debate over court-packing grows more contentious in the presidential election, Arizona offers something of a window into how these expansions can happen and the long-term impact they can have.
Continue reading Hank Stephenson’s piece at POLITICO.
For voters in Maricopa and Pima Counties, if you have ever wondered why your ballot is so long, it is because of the judicial retention elections. Far too many voters skip over this portion of the ballot because they do not know anything about the judges on the retention ballot. Well, here is an early opportunity for you to start your homework ahead of voting this fall and be an informed voter.
In 1992 Arizona voters amended the state Constitution to create a process for evaluating the performance of judges appointed through merit selection. The Constitution requires that the performance evaluation process include input from the public and that judicial performance reports be given to the voters before the state’s general election. The Commission on Judicial Performance Review (JPR Commission) was created to conduct the periodic performance reviews of appointed judges required by the Constitution:
The JPR Commission works under procedures adopted by the Supreme Court and sets standards for judicial performance including whether judges can apply the law fairly, treat people with respect and manage a courtroom.
How do Voters Evaluate the Judges?
Under the performance evaluation process, public input about each judge’s performance is collected through surveys conducted by jurors, witnesses, litigants, people who represent themselves in court, attorneys and court staff who have observed the judge at work. This input is then used to rate key aspects of each judge’s performance. The public has the key role in the performance review process, as the JPR Commission uses the public input to decide whether each judge subject to retention election “Meets” or “Does Not Meet” judicial performance standards. The Commission reports its decision and the information collected from the surveys in the Secretary of State Voter Information Pamphlet and on its website. Voters can use the JPR Commission’s findings and data reports to decide how they will vote on each judge on the retention ballot.
Be an Informed Voter!
Check out our short video and then use the information on the JPR Commission website to learn about the judges you’ll be voting on so you can be an informed voter.
Note: Historically, since the retention system began, only two judges had ever been voted off the bench, and none had lost a retention election between 1978 – 2014. In 2014, two judges received a “does not meet” review, and one was not retained by voters for the first time. Arizona commission deems 2 judges unfit for bench; Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Norris is the first merit-selected judge to be voted off the bench in 36 years.
Which Judges Will I be Voting On?
All Arizona Voters
Arizona Supreme Court
Robert M. Brutinel, appointed 2011
Andre W. Gould, appointed 2017
John R. Lopez IV, appointed 2017
Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Mohave, Navajo, Yavapai and Yuma Voters Only
Court of Appeals Division 1
Jennifer B. Campbell, appointed 2017
Maria Elena Cruz, appointed 2017
Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pinal and Santa Cruz County Voters Only
Court of Appeals Division 2
Karl C. Eppich, appointed 2017
Garye L. Vasquez, appointed 2006
Coconino County Voters Only
Mark Moran, appointed 2004
Cathleen Brown Nichols, appointed 2013
Maricopa County Voters Only
Superior Court, unless otherwise noted
Jay Adleman, appointed 2013
Sara Agne, appointed 2018
Justin Beresky, appointed 2018
Scott Blaney, appointed 2018
Lori Horn Bustamante, appointed 2014
Rodrick Coffey, appointed 2013
Bruce R. Cohen, appointed 2005
Suzanne Cohen, appointed 2013
Connie Contes, appointed 2002
Christopher A. Coury, appointed 2010
Adam Driggs, appointed 2017
Ronda Fisk, appointed 2017
Pamela Gates, appointed 2009
Jo Lynn Gentry, appointed 2005
Michael D. Gordon, appointed 2005
John R. Hannah, Jr., appointed 2005
Randall M. Howe, appointed 2012 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
Michael W. Kemp, appointed 2005
Daniel J. Kiley, appointed 2010
Margaret LaBianca, appointed 2018
Todd Lang, appointed 2016
Margaret R. Mahoney, appointed 2002
Michael Mandell, appointed 2017
Suzanne Marwil, appointed 2018
Scott M McCoy, appointed 2009
Paul J. McMurdie, appointed 2016 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
Kathleen Mead, appointed 2013
Joseph Mikitish, appointed 2013
Scott Minder, appointed 2017
James B. Morse, Jr., appointed 2017 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
Karen A. Mullins, appointed 2006
David J. Palmmer, appointed 2009
Jennifer M. Perkins, appointed 2017 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
Adele Ponce, appointed 2018
Timothy J Ryan, appointed 2005
Teresa A. Sanders, appointed 2001
Patricia Starr, appointed 2014
Sherry K. Stephens, appointed 2001
Timothy Thomason, appointed 2014
Peter A. Thompson, appointed 2010
Samuel A. Thumma, appointed 2012 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
David K. Udall, appointed 2001
Lisa Ann Vandenberg, appointed 2018
Kevin Wein, appointed 2018
David D. Weinzweig, appointed 2018 (Court of Appeals Div. 1)
Christopher T. Witten, appointed 2006
Pima County Voters Only
Superior Court, unless otherwise noted
Renee Bennett, appointed 2017
Deborah Bernini, appointed 1997
Sean Brearcliffe, appointed 2017 (Court of Appeals Div. 2)
Kyle A. Bryson, appointed 2010
Michael Butler, appointed 2013
Richard Gordon, appointed 2009
Brenden Griffin, appointed 2013
John Hinderaker, appointed 2018
Kellie Johnson, appointed 2017
Kenneth Lee, appointed 1997
Scott McDonald, appointed 2018
Casey McGinley, appointed 2018
Douglas D. Metcalf, appointed 2013
Greg Sakall, appointed 2017
Paul E. Tang, appointed 2001
Joan Wagener, appointed 2014
Wayne Yehling, appointed 2017
Pinal County Voters Only
Patrick Gard, appointed 2018
Joseph R. Georgini, appointed 2006
Jason Holmberg, appointed 2013
Stephen F. McCarville, appointed 2001
Christopher O’Neil, appointed 2018
Robert Carter Olson, appointed 2018