State Supreme Court Justice Challenged

Oct 23, 2012

A state supreme court justice is fighting for his political career today amid an unprecedented effort to oust him.

Gov. Jan Brewer appointed John Pelander three years ago. He must stand for election this year on a retain-or-reject basis. Some groups want voters to turn him out of office because the high court ruled that Proposition 121 to create an open primary can be on the ballot. They say there is evidence that petition signatures were forged -- but the justices refused to overturn a trial judge's decision to give initiative foes only two hours to make their case. Since Pelander is the only one up for election this year, all the focus is on him. Pelander said the court ruled according to the law. But now has to decide whether to raise money to fight what he called hit pieces.

"They leave out so much and they disregard all the things I just mentioned, the context, the standard of review, what our roles was in the case and so forth," Pelander said. "If people are looking at those flyers for example and casting a vote on me or any other judge just based on that misinformation, then the horse is out of the barn and there's nothing I can do about it."

Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss backs Pelander even though she opposes Prop 121.

(Gov. Brewer hasn't agreed with every decision Justice Pelander has made. Nor is that the expectation," Benson said. "You nominate judges with the hope that they will look at issues fairly, impartially and with respect for the law and the constitution."