Arizona Senator trying to end merit selection in state wants to remove over 2/3 of Court of Appeals judges, strip court of funding

I mentioned last week the Arizona Senate, despite approving a constitutional amendment in 2011 to alter but not end merit selection in the state, is considering revoking the amendment from the 2012 ballot and replacing with partisan election for all judicial offices (not just those currently under merit selection).

The same senator has now introduced SB 1372 which would effectively remove 2/3 of the judges from the state’s Court of Appeals.

Under existing law, the Court of Appeals is made up of 2 divisions. Division 1 has a Chief judge + 15 judges (sitting in panels of 5 labeled A, B, C, D, and E. Division 2 has 6 judges with panels A & B. The two Divisions combine for a total of 22 judges.

Under SB 1372 Division 1 would shrink from 16 to 3 while Division 2 would go from 6 to 3. The reduction from 22 down to 6 would also cut funding for the court. Under current law the Court of Appeals retains 8.36% of all of the monies it collects monthly as fees and costs associated with appeals. SB 1372 would reduce that to 1% and transfer the other 7.36% to the state general fund.

The bill is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

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