Brief History of the Merit
Here in the United States, approximately
two thirds of states and Washington
D.C. use some variation of this system.
In 1974, this system was approved by
Arizona voters over popular election.
It is used in these instances:
Trial Courts in the largest AZ counties –
Pima and Maricopa
Merit Selection System
Judicial Nominating Commission
Comprised of lawyers and those with non-legal
The combination of legal and lay individuals
reduces the effects of partisanship.
The commission sorts through a pool of
Those chosen are sent to the Governor for
Merit Selection in AZ
Some reasons the merit selection system in
Arizona is unique:
AZ judges must face retention elections (as
opposed to life tenure)
Also, the AZ system has a Commission on
Judicial Performance Review to give
information on judges to constituents
Lastly, AZ law requires judges to evaluate
their own performance on the bench as well
Judicial Nominating Commissions
Each commission has 5 lawyers, 10 non-lawyers, and
either the Chief Justice or other sitting Justice.
Commission on Appellate Court Appointments
4 year terms, no more than 5 non-attorneys from the
same party and 2 from the same county, no more
than 3 attorneys from the same party and 2 from the
Maricopa County and Pima County Commission on
Trial Court Appointments
4 year terms, no more than 2 public members from
each supervisorial district and political party, no more
than 3 attorneys from the same party and none can
reside in the same supervisorial district.
First, the commission sorts through applications.
Then they choose the applicants they wish to
interview. After the interviews, the…
“The Commission must submit 3 applications to the
Governor before a period of 60 days after a judicial
position is vacated. If this doesn’t occur, the Governor
may appoint any qualified person to fill the judicial
vacancy. Should the Governor fail to appoint one of
the commission's nominees within 60 days after the
names are submitted, the Chief Justice of the Arizona
Supreme Court makes the appointment from the list of
Why Merit Selection?
Promotes Public Encourages
Accountability Diversity on the
Produces a Highly- Bench
Qualified Judiciary Incorporates
Fosters Impartiality Representative
Improvement of the
Pima County Commission on Trial
Court Appointments (PCCTCA)
Last year, I served on the Trial Court
It was the job of this commission to
select the non-attorneys to participate in
I applied for this position as a resident of
supervisorial District 3.
We selected one Democrat and one
Republican to serve on the PCCTCA for
the next four years.
All sources came from the Arizona Supreme