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Eleven lawyers seek slots on state Supreme Court

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Just 11 lawyers have applied to be one of the two new justices that Gov. Doug Ducey will select for the Arizona Supreme Court.

The list includes five judges now serving on the state Court of Appeals, three attorneys in private practice, two who work at the attorney general’s office and a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

And, not unexpectedly, eight of the applicants are Republicans, like Ducey who will make the final selection.

The governor may not get 11 choices for the two slots.

First, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments does a preliminary screening. Those who pass then get an actual interview.

By law, the panel needs to send Ducey at least three names for each vacancy. And the list requires some diversity, at least politically: All the nominees cannot be from the same party.

What remains to be seen, though, is how many names will go to Ducey.

Chief Justice Scott Bales, who chairs the commission, said it will be up to panel members to decide whether to send up two separate lists, with completely different names, or the same list for both positions.

That latter option creates a potential problem given the requirement for political diversity. That’s because Ducey is required to have the choice from multiple parties even after making the first pick.

Put simply, a single list cannot include just one Democrat or one independent because if he were to choose that person for the first opening, there would be just Republicans left to select for the second.

And there’s a scarcity of sorts of those who are not members of the GOP.

The applicants are:

– Kent Cattani, 58, a Republican who is on the Court of Appeals;

– Pamela Frasher Gates, 45, a judge at Maricopa County Superior Court, who was a Democrat for two years before becoming a Republican in 1992;

– Thomas Gilson, 53, a political independent who works at a Phoenix law firm;

– Andrew Gould, 52, a Republican on the Court of Appeals;

– Randall Howe, 53, who also is a Republican appellate court judge;

– John Lopez IV, 47, who serves as the state solicitor general within the attorney general’s office, in charge of lawsuits against the state, a Republican;

– Robert McWhirter, 54, a Democrat in private practice for himself;

– Jennifer Perkins, 38, a Republican who works in the solicitor general’s office;

– Robert Schaffer, 51, in private practice.

 – Peter Swann, 51, who said he is registered as a political independent since last year after more than 30 years as a Democrat;

– Samuel Thumma, 54, a Republican appellate court judge.

In his only appointment to date, Ducey chose political independent Clint Bolick. But he, like every other member of the court to date, is an Anglo. That could result in some pressure to name Lopez who is the only Hispanic on the list.

2 comments

  1. If you can draw a line between which of these 11 individuals has a closer tie to the RNC, the Goldwater Institute, or conservative donors throughout the valley you can easily narrow the field down to the likely appointees. Ducey has some political favors to repay post election and they are being rolled out in appointments to state regulatory boards and intergovernmental offices post-haste.

  2. It’s ridiculous to argue that the scales of justice are evenly weighted when the candidates available for Ducey’s court-packing are not. Clearly, the Republicans in AZ are running scared, counting on a reactionary state Supreme Court to make things hard for the coming-majority Democratic office-holders. In that one regard is there any good news in this for the people of Arizona. Otherwise, it’s just Republican business as usual, which means do anything possible to protect the plutocracy and hold back democracy with a small “d.”

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