Two Republicans and a Democrat will be considered by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court, after a judicial screening commission recommended their names. A bipartisan mix might not appear on future lists, however, if voters approve changes to merit selection on a ballot issue this fall.
An Arizona Daily Star article reported that Brewer, a Republican, will pick from these candidates recommended by the panel: Judges Ann Scott Timmer and Diane Johnsen of the state Court of Appeals; and Judge Douglas Rayes of of Maricopa County Superior Court.
Arizonans will be asked this fall whether to change the merit-based system in place for choosing judges for the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the trial courts in the two largest counties. Under the proposal, a measure of influence would be shifted from the State Bar and judicial screening commissions to the governor, who would get more options when it comes to picking judges for vacancies.
In addition, the reforms would do away with a requirement that a final list of candidates recommended to the governor include individuals from different political parties. And the governor would choose from among at least eight candidates recommended by the panel, as opposed to choosing from as few as three candidates under existing law.
When nine finalists were interviewed by the judicial screening commission this week, they were asked to discuss the pluses and minuses of the ballot item. They declined to offer definitive opinions about adopting the proposal.
The Arizona Judges Association backs the ballot measure, called Proposition 115. It was forged as a compromise. The Arizona Judges Association registered support after some legislators had discussed more far-reaching changes, to require confirmation of judges by the state Senate, and to require their reconfirmation every four years, lobbyist Pete Dunn said. He is a member of the JAS board of directors.