Arizona Supreme Court
|Arizona Supreme Court|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
|Chief Justice Scott Bales||2005-2021||Gov. Janet Napolitano|
|Justice Rebecca White Berch||2002-2016||Gov. Jane Dee Hull|
|Justice Ann Timmer||2012-Present||Gov. Jan Brewer|
|Justice John Pelander||2009-2018||Gov. Jan Brewer|
|Justice Robert Brutinel||2010-2021||Gov. Jan Brewer|
Under Article 6, Sections 5 of the Arizona constitution the Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction to review the decisions reached by lower courts within the state. Discretionary jurisdiction allows the court to refuse to review a lower court case, unless the defendant in the case is sentenced to death, in which case the supreme court must hear the case. The court has a supervisory role over the Arizona Bar Association, other courts in the state, and the Commission on Judicial Conduct and is responsible making rules governing administration, practice and procedure in all courts. Under Article 8, Part 2, Section 1 of the constitution the chief justice of the court also has a role in the impeachment process of public officials who are accused of crimes. The chief presides over senate impeachment trials but does not offer a decision on guilt or innocence of the official.
- See also: Judicial selection in Arizona
All justices on the Arizona Supreme Court are chosen using the Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection to six-year renewable terms. Following the initial appointment judges are subject to a retention election in the next general election which occurs more than two years after the appointment. Vacancies, which can occur when a judge dies, resigns, retires, or is removed from office, are filled by appointments by the Governor of Arizona. The court consists of a Chief Justice, Vice Chief Justice and three Associate Justices. The Chief and Vice Chief are elected by their peers to five year renewable terms.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Arizona was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Arizona received a score of 0.10. Based on the justices selected, Arizona was the 19th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Minimum qualifications for appointment to the court are:
- A nominee to the court must have been a state resident for at least ten years.
- The nominee must have been licensed to practice law in Arizona for at least ten years.
- The candidate must be less than 70 years old, since there is a mandatory retirement age of 70.
- May not hold any other political office, public office, political party office, or practice law while on the bench.
- May not campaign except for their own campaign.
Removal of justices
Justices can be removed in multiple ways:
- They may be impeached by a majority vote of the Arizona House of Representatives and summarily convicted by a two thirds vote of the Arizona Senate.
- May be censured, suspended, removed, or retired based upon recommendation of the commission on judicial conduct by the Supreme Court.
- Lose a recall election after having lost a retention election.
- Death sentence thrown out by the Arizona Supreme Court because of jury's misunderstanding
- Arizona high court affirms water rights settlement
- Arizona Supreme Court strikes down tax deals
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Arizona earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
History of the court
The court was first assembled in February of 1912. Since then, 39 justices have sat on the bench. Article 6, Sections 1 through 8 of the Arizona Constitution concern the supreme court specifically, while the rest of the article discusses the Arizona judiciary as a whole. From 1912 to 1974, justices of all levels were elected to their respective courts (except in the case of unscheduled vacancies); in 1974, however, the passage of Proposition 108 ushered in the current era of merit-based judicial appointments. Proposition 108 additionally provided for "retention elections of merit-selected justices or judges after their appointments." Section 2 of Article 6 requires that there always be at least five justices on the supreme court bench, regardless of legislation that may increase or decrease the amount of justices at any given time. Article 33 protects justices and judges from salary deductions during their term in office.
- Former Chief Justice Lorna Lockwood was the first woman to serve as on the Supreme Court, first as an associate justice, then as vice chief justice and finally as chief. She was the first woman in any state to hold that position.
- Arizona Supreme Court Homepage
- The Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review (dead link)
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial selection"
- Arizona State Constitution, "Article 6"
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court," accessed September 24, 2014
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2013, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2012, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2011, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2010, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2009, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2008, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Fiscal Year 2007, Annual Report & Statistics," accessed September 24, 2014
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Judging the Justices, "A Review of the Arizona Supreme Court," 2003-2004
- Arizona State Library, "Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, Lorna Lockwood," accessed September 24, 2014
- Arizona Judicial Branch, "Legends of the Judiciary, Lorna Lockwood," accessed September 24, 2014
| John Pelander, Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Retention |
2012 General election results
| Rebecca White Berch, Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Retention |
2010 General election results
- Click here (scroll to page 13) for 2010 General Election Results from the Arizona Secretary of State.
- Main article: Arizona judicial elections, 2010
| Scott Bales, Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Retention |
2008 General election results
- Click here (scroll to page 13) for 2008 General Election Results from the Arizona Secretary of State.
| Andrew Hurwitz, Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Retention |
2006 General election results
- Click here (scroll to page 13) for 2006 General Election Results from the Arizona Secretary of State.
|Former||Ruth McGregor • Lorna Lockwood • Andrew Hurwitz • Michael D. Ryan (Arizona) •|