Judging the judges on your 2020 ballot

Judges preside over trials. In most cases, after hearing the evidence and deliberating at the conclusion of the trial, jurors deliver the verdict

Judges are once again on the ballot. They are not challenged by adversaries as others are, since they are not candidates. Having been vetted by judicial selection commissions and ultimately selected by a governor, their names appear for retention.

Merit Selection is in effect in Arizona counties reaching a 250,000 population threshold. Currently those counties include Coconino, Maricopa, Pima and Pinal. The other eleven counties have elections of judges.

There are pros and cons with each system, which is moot since Arizona voters authorized Merit Selection as Proposition 108, in 1974 (last page of the quaint, typed list) by a margin of 35,432 votes. It was later expanded, again by a vote of the people, to include more public members on the commission and give the chairing justice a vote.

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. Pres. 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.

Those putting the Arizona lists together have no knowledge of the capabilities of the judges. Most wouldn’t know a judge they denigrate if they were face to face. The lists are typically based on whether the specific judges were appointed by a Republican or Democrat governor. This is an erroneous assumption since prior to submitting their applications, judicial aspirants of both parties often change their political affiliations to correspond to that of the appointing governor. Governors also make cross-party appointments. Republican Gov. Jane Hull set heads spinning when she named her longtime friend Democrat Ruth McGregor as her first appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The most reliable means of assessing judges is by taking the time to study the ratings put out by the Commission on Judicial Performance Review (JPR).

It’s hardly an “inside job,” worthy of suspicion. Survey forms are distributed to people who have contact with the judges including attorneys, jurors, litigants, witnesses, people who represent themselves in court, court staff, and other judges. The Commission holds public hearings every election year and accepts written comments from the public at any time.

Judges are also required to complete self-evaluations to rate their own performance. Additionally each judge is assigned to a Conference Team composed of one public volunteer, one attorney volunteer, and one judge volunteer. The Conference Team meets with the judge to review the Data Report.

Ousting judges is rare, but happens. In 1978 Court of Appeals Judge Gary Nelson was not retained. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Fred Hyder was removed. Other judges have not been recommended for retention by JPR, but were still retained by voters.

Your best guide is to check out the ratings for all of the judges on the retention ballot, made available on the Judicial Performance Review site. Click on the individual judges names to get their complete rating information and bios. You’ll be far more informed than by giving any credibility to lists appearing in your email. The JPR lists are available here:

Arizona Supreme Court

Court of Appeals Division I

Court of Appeals Division II

Superior Court in Coconino County

Superior Court in Maricopa County

Superior Court in Pima County

Superior Court in Pinal County


5 Responses to Judging the judges on your 2020 ballot

  1. East Valley Conservative says:

    Appreciate these lists and especially the instructions on how to get their complete rating information and bios. That’s where the information I’ve been seeking is!

  2. Patriot Mom says:

    Fact -filled post, SRAZ. Many thanks!

  3. Sam says:

    Thanks SRAZ.

    You mentioned John Roberts.
    He and Ted Cruz both clerked for Wm. Rehnquist (at different times), and have crossed legal paths many times before Cruz went to Congress.
    Ted says that John Roberts has “. . . a visceral hate for Donald Trump. . .”
    And he repeated this when he was interviewed recently by Mark Levine on Levine’s Sunday evening TV show on FOX.


    The WHO (World Health Organization, an arm of the United Nations) is now saying that the lockdowns have proven to be detrimental to economies and health.

    Who (WHO) could have predicted THAT?

    Note that President Trump received, among other medications, Regeneron. NOT Remdesivir. It is THE cure.

    Not Remdesivir, which False Fauci owns a big chunk of.

    PATENTS. People at CDC has gotten wealthy beyond measure from the inside skinny on meds in the pipeline.

    And you might be interested to know that the Fed employees at the U.S. Patent Office have a Huge # of millionaires on the payroll.
    They were not persons of wealth prior to their employment.

    We’ve been snookered.

    Another Peaceful Protest Rally for America in PA this evening.

    You can check out the twitter account of Dan Scavino to see awesome photos and info. It’s a great hangout spot.

  4. MAGA Hat Man says:

    This SRAZ post came in just as we were discussing what to do with the faceless judges that few of us have any knowledge of. I can see it will take some time to go through the Maricopa County Superior Court judges, but will check them out.

    We make it a practice not to vote too early, since much can change with candidates for any office in the period between receiving an early ballot and election day. We’ll be looking up the closest election center and hand carrying our ballots there at least a full week before Nov. 3rd. Becoming less trusting of the US Postal Service. Just received a check we’d been waiting for two months later than the mailed date!

  5. PV PC says:

    This is why Seeing Red AZ is my go-to spot each day. You guys do excellent work, and it often shows up just when I need it the most! Telepathy?

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