State Capitol News
10:51 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Three Judges Make List for Next AZ Supreme Court Justice

A special screening panel voted Monday to give Jan Brewer three choices of who to tap to be the next justice of the state Supreme Court. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

The commission on appellate court appointments nominated Court of Appeals Judges Ann Scott Timmer and Diane Johnson, and Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Rayes to fill the vacancy created when Andrew Hurwitz was named to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. By law, Brewer HAS to pick from that list. But she supports a measure on the November ballot to require her to get at least EIGHT names from which to choose. Rayes told commissioners he is weighing the ballot measure.

"I think that it's something that I haven't come to a full decision yet," Rayes said. "I like our system the way it is. But I'm not convinced it can't be improved."

Johnsen said the change may quiet those who say the current process results in judges who are not accountable.

"To the extent that the governor has more choices I think you could argue that the process is more democratic because it puts the appointment process a little more in the control of someone who's elected by the people," Johnsen said.

Timmer said she understands the desire to give the governor more choices, though she worried what might happen if there are not enough well-qualified applicants. The governor has 60 days to make her pick.