Phoenix, AZ – Under the current system, attorneys who want to be judges on the
supreme and appellate courts are screened by a special commission
of lawyers and others. That panel then nominates at least three
people, no more than two of whom can be from the same political
party. And the governor has to make a choice from that list.
Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas wants the governor
to be able to choose anyone who has applied, with the role of the
commission reduced solely to ranking the applicants. Thomas
acknowledged that would let the governor name a favored attorney
who happens to be a political supporter, whether or not the
commission found that person to be qualified.
(You know there are checks on what the governor can do. First of
all, the governor has to stand for election. And the governor is
accountable to the people. And so that is a check on what the
governor might do in that situation.)
Thomas said his plan also would provide more information to
voters who must decide regularly whether to retain appointed
judges. Tom Horne, his Republican foe, said the plan makes no
sense. He said the current system helps remove politics from the
process and generally results in well qualified judges. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.