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Proposition 115: Judicial selection; procedure

Legislative Council analysis:

Proposition 115 would amend the Arizona Constitution to make the following changes relating to the selection and retention of state judges and justices:

1. The terms of state Superior Court judges would be extended from four years to eight years; the terms of state Court of Appeals judges and state Supreme Court justices would be extended from six years to eight years.

2. The mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices would be extended from seventy to seventy-five.

3. The appointment authority for the five attorney members of each commission that nominates applicants to fill judicial vacancies would be amended as follows:

(a) The Governor would appoint four attorneys to each nominating commission and the president of the State Bar of Arizona would appoint one attorney to each nominating commission. Currently, the State Bar of Arizona nominates and the Governor appoints all five attorney members of each commission.

(b) The five attorney members would be required to have resided in and been licensed to practice law for ten years in Arizona and must not have any formal complaints or sanctions with the State Bar of Arizona. Currently, the attorney members must have resided in and been licensed to practice law for five years in Arizona.

4. The minimum number of judicial nominees to be submitted by a nominating commission to the Governor for a judicial vacancy would be increased from three to eight, and the limitations on the number of nominees from a particular political party would be repealed. An applicant who receives a majority vote for nomination shall be nominated for the vacancy. By a two-thirds vote, a nominating commission may reject an applicant and submit fewer than eight nominees for a judicial vacancy.

5. If more than one vacancy exists in the same court at the same time, the nominating commission would be required to submit at least six judicial nominees for each vacancy, and could not submit the same nominee for more than one vacancy. The Governor would be allowed to appoint any of the nominees submitted for any of the vacancies in that court.

6. The Supreme Court would be required to make opinions and orders of state judges and justices available electronically on the Supreme Court website, unless the opinion or order is sealed or confidential pursuant to law.

7. Sixty days before the general election for the retention of state judges and justices, a joint legislative committee would be authorized to meet and take testimony on the state judges and justices who are up for retention. A copy of the judicial performance review of each state judge or justice that is conducted under current law would be required to be transmitted to the Legislature prior to that meeting.

Proposition language:

(SCR1001 – 50th 1st Reg)

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