Vote No On Prop. 115

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Editor:

Under Prop. 115, the Legislature may hold hearings to investigate judges whose opinions they don’t like.

Proposition 115 has been clearly identified as a very bad ballot effort by the politicians to give the governor nearly complete control of judicial selection, effectively destroying the current “Merit Selection” system of selecting our appellate judges that is widely respected and copied. However, there has been less attention to what is perhaps a more ominous feature of Proposition 115: a new, broad power granted to the Legislature to hold formal investigations of any judge that is up for retention.

Arizona judges already have a rigorous Judicial Performance Review system. The 97th Arizona Town Hall, reviewing all branches of government in its meeting, Arizona Government, the Next 100 Years, stated, “Arguably no other public officials are subject to the same degree of accountability as judges.”

But now, under Proposition 115, any time the Legislature decided it didn’t like a decision of a judge (like when the Supreme Court refused to throw out the Independent redistricting commission) or a jury verdict (remember the Azscam prosecutions of corrupt legislators?) or a criminal sentencing, the politicians could hold staged-for TV hearings about every aspect of a judge’s performance.

Individuals who serve our state as judges already make significant sacrifices. Fewer good judges will wish to serve, knowing that they could be hauled up to the state capitol and grilled by a hostile Legislature any time they make a difficult decision.

Vote NO on Prop. 115.

Jojene Mills, chair,

No on Proposition 115 Committee

Comments

don evans 1 year, 6 months ago

Yeah right, not! Judges are way to secretive in their duties and obligations. And they are very political among their closed fratenity of other judges and politicos pushing specific agendas behind the scenes. When is the last time you have heard of a judge being seriously sanctioned by his higher fellow judges? Time for the light to be shined on cloistered and protected from public scrutiny. After all, they are only attorney's who gained their position by crony political appointments, or support by a political party. I'm all for prop 115. It's about time the rocks be turned over on the judicial demigods.

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ALLAN SIMS 1 year, 6 months ago

Ms. Mills overlooks the power of the legislature to impeach judges under the Arizona constitution. To have that power, it is obvious that they must also already have the power of oversight of judges and their actions. So, voting no on the proposition does little to achieve the protections she seeks, as she expresses above.

Would you really want to stand in front of a politically active judge who recognizes you as an active participant in a group he considers a political enemy? The State Bar of Arizona tends to agree, for they support the proposition as evidenced by this quote from their website.

“Fair and impartial courts are necessary to assure liberty and justice for all. Making sure that we have the best judges is a critical part of keeping our courts fair and our scales of justice balanced. In Arizona, judges for superior court are selected through a system that uses elections in smaller counties (where people tend to know each other well) and a non-partisan Merit Selection system for larger counties, including Maricopa, Pima and Pinal. Judges for the Supreme Court, as well as the Court of Appeals, also are appointed through Merit Selection.

Because of Arizona's Merit Selection system our courts are fair and impartial. Our Merit Selected judges are among the most highly regarded in the United States and around the world.

Since the current Merit Selection system is not broken, the question has arisen: why should we amend our State Constitution to fix it? No system is perfect. There are improvements that could be made. Some provisions of Proposition 115 would make improvements. The retirement age for judges would be increased from 70 to 75, and the term between judicial retention elections would be increased to eight years (from the current four years). Also, while the State Bar would no longer make nominations to the Governor for all attorney members of the Commissions, the State Bar would be given direct authority to select one of the 15 members of each Merit Selection Commission.

In an effort to protect Merit Selection, the State Bar supports Proposition 115.”

Instead of destroying the merit system, as Ms. Mills laments, this proposition tends to support and improve the system, according to the State Bar of Arizona. Refer to this site to see for yourself. http://www.azbar.org/aboutus/leadership/boardofgovernors/importantissues/prop115

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Pat Randall 1 year, 6 months ago

I would like to see a term limit on superior court judges. To much cronyism. To much power with personal likes and dislikes for people who go before them.

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