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9 candidates vie for Arizona Supreme Court post; comments wanted

Comments from the public are being sought regarding nine candidates for an opening on the Arizona Supreme Court created by the retirement of Chief Justice Scott Bales.

Bales was succeeded by new state Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, the former vice chief justice who was tapped to lead the court last week by his colleagues.

The seven-member court — with justices named to six-year terms — is appointed by the governor, with one of the members chosen by fellow justices to serve a five-year term as chief justice.

Gov. Doug Ducey, with increased opportunities after he pushed a 2016 expansion of the Supreme Court from five to seven seats, has already appointed more state justices than any governor in Arizona history. He has previously tapped Clint Bolick, John Lopez, Andrew Gould and James Beene for the court.

The candidates to fill the newest vacant seat on the state's top bench are:

  • Sean E. Brearcliffe, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division II
  • Kent E. Cattani, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Maria Elena Cruz, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • David J. Euchner of the Pima County Public Defender's Office
  • Richard E. Gordon, a Pima County Superior Court Judge
  • Randall M. Howe, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Andrew M. Jacobs of Snell & Wilmer, LLP
  • William G. Montgomery of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office
  • Jennifer M. Perkins, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I

Their applications for the office can be viewed online at the the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments website.

The commission interview the candidates on July 26, in a public meeting in room 101 of the Arizona State Courts Building, 1501 W. Washington, Phoenix, starting at 8 a.m. The interview agenda will be posted on the commission's website at least seven days prior to the meeting.

Citizens may address the commission on the day of the meeting or send written comments to jnc@courts.az.gov or to 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, AZ 85007. It is not necessary to submit multiple copies of written comments, and email is preferred. Comments must be received no later than July 23 to be considered. Anonymous comments will not be considered, officials said.

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After the interviews, the commission will recommend at least three nominees for the opening to Gov. Ducey, who will appoint the new justice.

Ducy has thus far appointed four members of the Arizona Supreme Court. The most recent was Beene, a former state Court of Appeals judge elevated in April to fill a seat left open by the retirement of Justice John Pelander, who left in March.

Bales announced that he would retire in July back in March, just days after Pelander's retirement, providing Ducey with the opportunity to appoint a solid majority of the justices.

Four candidates for the latest post — Cattani, Cruz, Gordon and Jacobs — were all on the short list of finalists for that appointment.

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Phoenix Law

The entrance to Arizona's Supreme Court building in Phoenix.