Gavel Grab

Article: How Judicial Merit Selection Plays out in Arizona

Out of 38 judgeships she has filled, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has named 35 Republicans, or 92 percent of the judges, from her party. That’s a higher ratio than any of her three predecessors selected from their own parties, according to an Arizona Republic article.

Despite existence of a merit-based system for selecting judges that has been in place for 38 years, political factors still are involved in seating judges on the bench, the article said.

Nonetheless, a number of legal veterans said Arizona’s courts “tend to be nonpartisan in rulings and conduct,” the article added. “They say that’s because under the merit-selection systems, nominees are chosen more for their experience, professionalism and abilities than their political views.”

If a ballot measure before voters is passed this fall, the role that politics plays in the process could increase, according to some experts. The article recapped views from both sides of the ballot measure to give the governor more control, and options, when it comes to picking judges for vacancies (see Gavel Grab for background).

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