As a police officer and a leader of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), I count on Arizona judges to properly apply the law and ensure that people seeking justice are treated fairly. Members of the law enforcement community rely on judges to respect prosecutors, defendants and victims. A November referendum, Proposition 115, threatens to inject politics into our courtrooms, jeopardizing justice for all involved.
Judges in Arizona’s largest counties make their way to the bench through merit selection. Nominating panels take applications for judicial openings and conduct interviews. The top three candidates are sent to the governor for appointment to the bench. Since 1974, attorneys wanting a seat on the Supreme Court, court of appeals and courts in large counties have undergone this merit selection process. In fact, Arizona’s merit selection process remains a model for other states.
The nominating commissions are comprised of five attorneys recommended by the State Bar and 10 members appointed by the governor. Only the top three candidates go the governor for consideration. Under Prop. 115, a governor would receive 14 of the 15 appointments. And eight candidates must be sent the governor for consideration. Cronies and friends of the governor and unqualified applicants would then have equal chance of making it to the bench.
Law enforcement members oppose this new process. We prefer the most qualified candidates be selected, not the most politically connected. Merit, not political affiliation or ideology, must remain the key component of our judicial selection process. We at the PLEA urge voters to reject Prop. 115.
Joe Clure, President
Phoenix Law Enforcement Association