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Obama nominates Arizona Justice Hurwitz to Ninth Circuit

President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Eva Russo - Richmond Times Dispatch)

President Barack Obama is nominating Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Departure of Hurwitz for the federal bench would permit Gov. Jan Brewer to make a third appointment to the five-member state high court.

Hurwitz is a Democrat who was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court in 2003 by Brewer’s predecessor, Democrat Janet Napolitano.

Before his appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court, Hurwitz had no experience on the bench.

Alan Bayham, former president of the State Bar of Arizona and a friend of Hurwitz, said the justice handled cases in both civil and criminal law at the highest level, a rarity in the legal field.

One of his most noted cases as a private attorney was the U.S. Supreme Court case of ~Ring v. Arizona.~

Hurwitz argued on behalf of death row prisoner Timothy Ring against Napolitano, who represented the state as attorney general.

The court sided with Ring, changing Arizona’s capital sentencing laws. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that juries and not judges had to determine whether the death penalty is warranted.

Executions in Arizona were put on hold for several years as subsequent cases related to ~Ring~ and other death sentencing issues were decided in court.

Obama’s nomination of Hurwitz on Wednesday is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. If he is confirmed, then he will replace Judge Mary M. Shroeder of Phoenix, who will take senior status Jan. 1, a sort of working retirement.

Bayham said Hurwitz has shown a great temperament over the years on the bench.

“He approaches every case with an open mind and with a level of intelligence and competence,” Bayham said. “He is very, very qualified.”

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