Judging by searches coming into this site, Arizona voters are interested in how to ‘judge the judges.” Unfortunately, many of the lists floating around the internet are undependable, using politics as the sole determiner. We all know how unreliable that can be. The U.S. Supreme Court stands as a stunning example. Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, who then reveled in being the swing vote on the court and as often as not, swung left. When George W. Bush named John Roberts as Chief Justice, conservatives cheered. We rued the day when he was the deciding vote in upholding ObamaCare. Such examples stand as stark reminders that there is no simple barometer to gauge those in black robes.
The Judicial Performance Review Commission — composed of members of the public, attorneys and judges — collects information from everyone who has contact with a judge including litigants, witnesses, jurors and lawyers. This data is used to rate key aspects of each judge’s performance including whether they can apply the law fairly, treat people with respect and manage a courtroom efficiently. Information on the process can be accessed here.
The much heralded “Merit Selection of Judges” enacted in 1974 by voters who were fed skewed information, and which is expanding throughout Arizona as county populations increase, is far from flawless. We prefer the system that works well in the majority of counties, where the judges stand for election, rather than retention — but like putting toothpaste back in the tube, it’s not going to happen.
The following is the list of courts where judges and justices are up for retention. There is a wealth of information available by clicking on the judges‘ names. Then go a step further to read the “Detailed Report.” It takes some time to sift through, but if you want to vote smart, do it. Your specific ballot will indicate which judges are up for retention.