Phoenix,AZ- Supporters of Arizona’s nationally recognized judicial merit selection system gathered at the Clarendon Hotel on October 17 for the 3rd Annual Arizona Advocates Taking Charge social. The networking event focused on the importance of fair courts and diversity on the bench. Panelists Eric Lesh, Lambda Legal; Liz Fujii, Justice at Stake, and Tim Hogan, ACLPI highlighted important cases that have defended citizens’ rights and initiatives, such as marriage equality, Clean Elections and public school funding. During the panel, Liz Fujii said, “Involving diverse communities is key to developing a diverse bench."
“Our goal is to create diversity on the bench that reflects Arizona’s communities and to ensure access to fair and unbiased justice.” By collaborating with local, state and national organizations, Arizona Advocacy Network aims to educate the public on the value of the merit system and how citizens can be involved in selecting qualified judges while advocating for more diversity on the bench. Another objective is to help create a pipeline for new judges that will strengthen fair and unbiased courts while reflecting Arizona’s diversity. Specialty bar associations like Los Abogados, and state law schools will play an integral part.
This expanded educational effort begins at a time when the voter approved merit selection system is under attack from lawmakers supported by special interest money. In 2012, 75% of voters said no to Proposition 115, a legislative proposal to make the selection of judges in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties more partisan. After losing at the ballot, lawmakers and the governor passed HB2600 to enact parts of what voters had rejected. The Arizona Supreme Court found HB2600 unconstitutional; violating the voter approved merit selection system enshrined in the state’s constitution.
To access our photo gallery of this event, please click here.