In Arizona, Appellate Rulings to Go Online

Two new Arizona laws require an online list of rulings made by the state’s appellate judges who are on the retention ballot. Senator Ron Gould sponsored the bills to better inform the general public about the courts, reports Cronkite News.

Peter Dunn, a lobbyist with the Arizona Judges Association and a Justice at Stake board member, approved of the laws. Dunn said the laws provide important information for voters without politicizing the retention of judges. He added:

“Judges believe the more information the voters have the better…[and] while biographical information and ruling citations are already available to the public, having it all in one place is valuable to voters.”

But Arizona State University law professor Paul Bender said the laws are an attack on Arizona’s judicial merit selection system. “By saying, ‘Put up your biography and let us know your constitutional rulings,’ they’re hoping that they can stir up some public opposition to particular judges who they don’t like,” Bender said.

Arizona’s Commission for Judicial Performance Review will provide the online information about judges up for retention elections. Since 1974, Arizona has had merit selection and retention elections for Supreme Court and appellate judges, and for trial court judges in counties with populations greater than 250,000.

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