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Brewer to pick from 3 finalists for Supreme Court justice

Whether to sign the Legislature-approved budget deal isn’t the only thing Gov. Jan Brewer is considering today (July 1), as she also has a list of three names and the responsibility of appointing the next Arizona Supreme Court justice.

The Arizona Commission of Appellate Court Appeals has narrowed down its field of candidates to three, after spending a full day on June 29 conducting interviews with eight possible successors to fill a vacancy left by the retiring of Chief Justice Ruth McGregor.

The court selected its final three applicants on June 29, but Brewer won’t be presented with the list until July 1 to accommodate McGregor’s official retirement, which is effective tonight at midnight, according to Arizona Supreme Court spokeswoman Cari Gerchick.

On July 1, Brewer will be permitted to choose the next justice from the following list:

Diane Johnsen
Johnsen is a registered Democrat serving as a judge on the Arizona Division One Court of Appeals and was appointed to the position in 2006 by former Gov. Janet Napolitano. She studied law at Stanford University.

John Pelander
Pelander serves as the chief judge of the Arizona Division Two Court of Appeals in Pima County. Former Gov. Fife Symington appointed Pelander, a Republican, to the court in 1995. He studied law at the University of Arizona and the University of Virginia.

Ann Scott Timmer
Timmer is a Republican candidate who serves as the chief judge of the Arizona Division One Court of Appeals. She was appointed to the appellate court in 2000 by Gov. Jane Hull. She attended law school at Arizona State University.

The process to appoint Arizona Supreme Court justices is governed by the state Constitution, which calls for at least three names to be submitted to the sitting governor and requires nominees from one party make up no more than two-thirds of the commission’s recommendations.

This year, only two Democrats applied for the position out of a total of 17 candidates. In early June, the commission voted against the selection of Tucson attorney Jose Robles, a Democrat.

The decision effectively capped the commission’s list at three candidates, while guaranteeing that Johnsen, the sole remaining Democrat, would be among those recommended to the governor.

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