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Sen. Murphy’s trip to Montana leaves 21 Brewer appointments unconfirmed

Sen. Rick Murphy (file photo)

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee left the state on a personal matter, making it unlikely that 21 of the governor’s court- related nominations will be filled this year.

The chairman, Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria, is in Montana and likely won’t be back until late in the month, leaving the nominations stuck in the committee at least until 2014.

Four of the nominations will have expired by the next legislative session, meaning Gov. Jan Brewer would have to choose new nominees.

Murphy could not be reached for comment. He told fellow senators he will be in Montana for a family event until June 24.

Most of the nominations are for commissions that select judges.

Brewer’s spokesman, Matthew Benson, said the senator’s strategy “makes no sense.”

“The governor’s intent with these judicial appointments, especially with the trial court appointments, is to put individuals on these boards who are going to have a conservative judicial philosophy,”

Benson said. “So it makes no sense whatsoever that a fellow Republican would stymie that effort.”

Benson added: “If it was his intent to limit the appointment of conservative judges then mission accomplished.”

Unlike other committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to tackle any nominations this session. The governor had asked the Senate to confirm roughly 140 nominations.  More than 100 nominees have been confirmed — but none who was assigned to the Judiciary Committee.

Some of the nominations were made last year.

Murphy had said earlier he was holding the nominations as leverage to persuade House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, to let two of Murphy’s bills advance. The measures deal with adoption and parental rights.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, called Murphy’s actions a “tantrum.”

“For a committee chair to hold up gubernatorial nominations because he cannot get his pet legislation through the process — I think it’s very unethical,” he said.

If the Senate refuses to take a formal action on an appointment, state laws allow the governor to temporarily seat the nominees.

But they must be confirmed by the Senate in the next legislative session, and they cannot serve for longer than a year without senators’ consent.

Four of the 21 appointments will expire before the Senate can revisit them next year.

“The governor will have to make four new appointments to these commissions, which is something we’re able to do,” Benson said.

 

The appointees whose nomination is stuck in the Judiciary Committee are:

Barry Aarons – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Maricopa County.

Roger Barton – Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Laura Calvert – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Juan Ciscomani – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

Donna Davis – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Maricopa County.

Brett Eisele – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Penny Fendley – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Leonard Gilroy – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Maricopa County.

Michael Hennessy – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

Martin Hermanson – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Marian Hill – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

Irene Littleton – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Cassia Guadalupe Lundin – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

Frederic Medina – Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Dean Miller – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Maricopa County.

David Mix – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Richard Schaefer – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

Carole Siegler – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pima County.

James Stephens – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Christine Valenzuela – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Pinal County.

Donald Vogel – Commission on Trial Court Appointments, Maricopa County.

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