Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Bill Montgomery to the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, making the controversial Maricopa County attorney Ducey’s fifth selection to the state’s highest court.
Montgomery’s appointment is Ducey’s second to the Supreme Court in 2019, and it’s also the second time Montgomery was up for the job. Montgomery failed to make it past a vetting procedure by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, but a revamped commission – with a number of new commissioners appointed by Ducey – advanced Montgomery as one of seven candidates for the governor to consider in July.
The governor, who tweeted his announcement, said he was looking for a justice who “had an understanding of the law, a well-developed judicial philosophy, appreciation for the separation of powers and a dedication to public service… More broadly, I was looking for an individual who wants to interpret the law – not someone who wants to write the law.”
“Bill Montgomery is that candidate,” Ducey wrote.
Ducey has already appointed Justices Clint Bolick, John Lopez, Andrew Gould and – earlier this year – James Beene.
Montgomery is clearly Ducey’s most controversial appointment in just under five years as governor. His appointment to the court was harshly opposed by the ACLU of Arizona and other progresive organization who criticized his political track record.
Opponents cited, among other critiques, prosecutorial misconduct that went unchecked under Montgomery’s watch in Maricopa County; a bungled use-of-force case in which Glendale police used an electronic stun gun on a man; and Montgomery’s well-known personal beliefs, such as his staunch opposition to marijuana, sentencing reform and certain LGBT rights.
Ducey’s appointment also comes one day after the Arizona Republic reported that a new ethics complaint, filed with the State Bar of Arizona, accused Montgomery of covering up misconduct by a top prosecutor in an internationally-watched murder case against Jodi Arias.
Montgomery’s appointment leaves a vacancy for the Maricopa County attorney. A temporary replacement will be chosen by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to hold the seat until the next election in 2020.
So far, only four Democrats have filed to run, but a Republican must be appointed to the seat to finish off Montgomery’s term.