Proposition 115 is a constitutional amendment referred by the Legislature and would alter the process of selecting judges as approved by voters in 1974. Its final form comes as the result of lengthy negotiations between major stakeholders and conservative legislators during the 2011 legislative session, where it was known as SCR 1001. The Center for Arizona Policy (a conservative organization that spearheaded the drive for reform), the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Judges Association and the Arizona Judicial Council (a policy arm of the Arizona Supreme Court) were involved in the negotiations and have come together behind the proposal.
This is a lengthy amendment so I will put the changes in bullet format with what it will do and what it is currently since I’m assuming most do not know all the ins and outs on how we select state judges including my self till just very recently (2 hours ago).
- The terms of state Superior Court judges would be extended from four years to eight years; the terms of state Court of Appeals judges and state Supreme Court justices would be extended from six years to eight years. This is when the voter can vote them out.
- The mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices would be extended from seventy to seventy-five.
- It would give the governor a greater role and reduce the role of the Arizona State Bar Association.
- It also would authorize the Legislature to become more active in reviewing the record of judges facing retention elections.
- It will require the courts to publish their decisions on-line.
What does all that mean?
A vote of YES will give the governor greater control over appointment of lawyers on the judicial nominating commissions, thereby diminishing the role of the State Bar of Arizona. It would provide the governor a larger pool of applicants from which to choose in making judicial appointments but also eliminate the political party balance requirement. It would limit the ability of nominating commissions to screen candidates for judicial vacancies in a search for the most qualified candidate. The second big change with a yes vote is that the legislature will review the judges record at the end of his term and the judge could give testimony to the senate and house judiciary committees if the judge is up for re-election. A vote of yes will also increase the retirement age, have term limit increases, and court decisions will be posted on-line.
A vote of NO will retain the current system as approved by voters in 1974.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say any time major stakeholders are involved and that major stakeholder is not the citizen then it is probably not going be in our best interest. Any time you give the other two branches of government more control over the Judicial branch that is not a good thing either for the citizens. Personally I like to vote those judges out quite frequently and increasing their term limits takes power from the citizen. The current system has worked and appears to me that political party politics is trying to manipulate the Judicial branch in their favor. The current non-partisan format of selecting the most qualified judge using citizens and attorneys seems to be very balanced. I don’t believe this proposition is in the best interest of the citizen.
For further info on this proposition: