Proposition 115 has been clearly identified as a very bad ballot effort by the politicians to give the governor nearly complete control of judicial selection, effectively destroying the current “Merit Selection” system of selecting our appellate judges that is widely respected and copied. However, there has been less attention to what is perhaps a more ominous feature of Proposition 115: a new, broad power granted to the Legislature to hold formal investigations of any judge that is up for retention.
Arizona judges already have a rigorous “Judicial Performance Review” system. The 97th Arizona Town Hall, reviewing all branches of government in its meeting, “Arizona Government, the Next 100 Years,” stated, “Arguably no other public officials are subject to the same degree of accountability as judges.”
But now, under Proposition 115, any time the Legislature decided it didn’t like a decision of a judge (like when the Supreme Court refused to throw out the Independent Redistricting Commission) or a jury verdict (remember the Azscam prosecutions of corrupt legislators?) or a criminal sentencing, the politicians could hold staged-for TV hearings about every aspect of a judge’s performance.
Individuals who serve our state as judges already make significant sacrifices. Fewer good judges will wish to serve, knowing that they could be hauled up to the State Capitol and grilled by a hostile Legislature, any time they make a difficult decision.
JoJene Mills, chair
“No on Proposition 115” Committee