For more than 30 years Arizona citizens have benefited from a judicial merit selection and retention system. Merit selection is a way of choosing judges that uses nonpartisan commissions to investigate and evaluate applicants for judgeships. The commissions then submit the names of at least three highly qualified applicants to the Governor. The Governor appoints appellate court judges statewide and trial court judges in Maricopa and Pima and Pinal counties from lists of nominees submitted by the judicial nominating commissions.
We invite you to attend our meetings to see Arizona’s merit selection system at work. Our mission is to nominate candidates with outstanding qualifications who reflect, to the extent possible, the diversity of our communities.
Public members make up the majority of every judicial nominating commission. There are four nominating commissions - one for appellate court appointments, and three local commissions on trial court appointments in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties. Each commission is composed of ten public members and five attorney members, and is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Our members come from diverse geographic areas. A wide range of experience and perspectives are brought together to choose the most highly qualified candidates for appointment to judicial office.
Merit selection is not a system that grants lifetime judgeships. In Arizona, after an initial two-year term of office and every few years thereafter, judges appointed under merit selection are evaluated by the voters in an uncontested retention election. Voters have the power to remove or retain judges during the retention elections.
How can Arizona citizens participate in selecting, reviewing and voting on judges?
• Encourage highly qualified people to apply to serve as a judge.
• Volunteer to serve on a judicial nominating commission. Applications are available from the Governor's Office when volunteers are needed.
• Send your comments on applicants being considered for judgeships to a Judicial Nominating Commission.
• Volunteer to serve on the Commission on Judicial Performance Review (JPR) or a JPR Conference Team.
• Complete and return a judicial performance survey when you are in court as a juror, litigant or witness during the survey period.
• Send your comments on a judge's performance at any time to the JPR Commission.
• Be an informed voter. Read the findings and report of the JPR Commission before you vote in retention elections.