Contact: Jennifer Liewer, Arizona Supreme Court Media Contact
Phone: 602.452.3656

How Do Voters Know How to Vote on Judges?

Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 - On November 6, voters will be asked to take a stand on a variety of candidates and issues. Voters will also be asked whether to retain or not retain Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal trial judges and the state’s appellate judges.

Most voters will find themselves asking, “How am I supposed to know how to vote for these judges?”  A little known group called The Judicial Performance Review Commission actually conducts evaluations, takes public comment and produces a report each election cycle to provide voters with information about the judges.

The Commission is comprised of 18 public members, 6 lawyers and 6 judges and was created in 1992 with the mission of informing voters whether or not a judge meets or does not meet judicial standards.

Maricopa and Pima County judges are appointed through a merit selection process resulting in appointment by the governor and subsequent retention by the voters. Pinal County will begin this same process now that their population has exceeded 250,000 people. These judges do not put up campaign signs, pass out bumper stickers, send solicitations or produce commercials.

Information is gathered by survey from parties, witnesses, jurors, and lawyers about the trial judges every two years and appellate judges every three years.  The surveys, which cover a range of information including the judge’s knowledge of the law, timeliness in ruling, courtesy and temperament and other relevant factors, are compiled and given to the Commission. More than 16,000 surveys on Arizona judges were received in 2009.

In addition, the Commission holds public hearings to hear first-hand from Arizona residents about the job performance of judges appearing on the general election ballot.  The Commission also accepts written comments at any time about the performance of any judge.

Commission recommendations, as well as a summary of the evaluations are included in the Secretary of State’s Voter Guide, on the Commission’s web site and even on Facebook at “Arizona Judicial Performance Review.”

About the State Bar
The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 17,000 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.

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