Judges of the Superior Court

If, like me, you think all government activities become unaccountable over time and our county court system in particular has become a black box –try finding out how many jury trials there are–, our method of voting whether to retain judges is highly unsatisfactory. We are expected to vote based on these ratings by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review, which are based on surveys mostly of attorneys and witnesses. Only one of the 40 judges up for review has a rating that varies significantly from the others (Ms Gentry). The Commission distributed 102 surveys to attorneys, of which 27 were returned, and 827 surveys to witnesses, of which 52 were returned, so her score is based on the testimony of some individuals who got mad at her, maybe with reason, maybe without. We cannot know. A more positive review of the ratings system is here.

Only two Superior Court judges have ever been rated unfit by the Commission. Story here, and here.

Nevertheless, we vote, usually ‘yes.’ In 2018, all the Superior Court judges were retained, by an average margin of 2.5:1. The judge who came closest to being voted out got 459,288 ‘yes’ and 311,878 ‘no’ votes. In that election, nearly 1.5 million people voted in Maricopa County, so half ignored the second page of the ballot but half voted. Merely failing to vote is not an effective protest.

The Legislature can change this system but they respond to votes, so we need to vote ‘no.’ Here are three ways of voting ‘no:’

  1. vote against retaining ALL the Superior Court judges, except the ones we have evidence are competent judges, in this case, Ms Marwil, and Mr Whitten. Mr Coury found the language of Proposition 208 to be misleading but he got overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court. Supporters of Proposition 208 are trying to oust him.
  2. vote against all those judges appointed by Democrat governors and those who once worked for Perkins Coie (an extremely partisan Democrat law firm). That logic results in a ‘no’ vote for Ms Gentry, as she was appointed by Governor Napolitano. The other ‘no’ votes are Bruce Cohen, Pamela Gates, Michael Gordon, John Hannah, Michael Kemp, Michael McCoy, Scott Minder, Karen Mullins, David Palmer, Timothy Ryan, and Christopher Whitten.
  3. The Democrat party here endorsed all but a few judges. If you vote exactly in the opposite fashion, you will come close to the results above.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club provides its judge endorsements here. They are surprisingly generous.