Who knew of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s sartorial longings? Most thought he was happy in dark blue, but it’s actually basic black he hankers for. First elected in 2010, the top county prosecutor wants to step out in something less confined, a bit airier, but more commanding. A judicial black robe would be just the thing. Superior Court is not where he’s set his sights, and the Court of Appeals holds no appeal. Montgomery is hoping to gain a seat on the Arizona Supreme Court, where a vacancy was recently announced as Justice John Pelander retires from the high court March 1.
In the event Montgomery — being pushed by Justice Clint Bolick* — is selected, the five member Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will fill the county attorney’s vacancy until the next election cycle. Montgomery’s current term expires in 2020. This is the same route he took to lead the county attorney’s office after his predecessor Andrew Thomas left not long after being reelected — setting his sights on what turned out to be a failed bid for the governor’s office. Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley temporarily replaced Thomas until the next election which Republican Montgomery handily won.
In 2016 Gov. Doug Ducey expanded the AZ Supreme Court from five to seven justices — including Bolick — pulling off what Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to do in 1937, as he was accused of “court packing.” In 2018, Montgomery endorsed Bolick’s wife for the state legislature.
When asked in December if he would be vying for the U.S. Senate seat that was eventually filled by Martha McSally, Montgomery unequivocally stated that being county attorney “is where God wants me to be.” Either God had a change of heart in the last couple of months or their communications ceased.
Having run for office, he’s political, but don’t sell him short. Montgomery, a West Point grad and military veteran, ably manages a large office, including over 350 lawyers. He is more than capable of handling the Supreme Court job. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office serves the fourth largest county in the United States, and is responsible for the prosecution of more than 35,000 felony criminal cases each year — taking criminals off the streets and keeping residents safe.
Check out the list of applicants along with their resumes on the AZ Supreme Court’s website. There are thirteen who submitted applications by Friday’s 5:00 pm deadline. Among them are 9 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 1 who has been registered as both an “Independent” and Libertarian. Another applicant disclosed that she has been a registered Democrat since 2002, but prior to that was not registered to vote — clearly demonstrating how much participation in our enviable elective process mean to her.
* Text messages between Bolick and Ducey made available by the Phoenix New Times through a FOIA request.