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NOTE FROM THE CHAIR: Voting for Judges

NOTE FROM THE CHAIR: Voting for Judges

Let’s face it, most of us don’t recognize any of the judges’ names on the ballot. These are important positions, technically non-partisan, but these jurists’ decisions can be highly partisan. 

All seven sitting Arizona Supreme Court justices are Republicans, appointed by Republican Governors Jan Brewer and Doug Ducey from lists that bipartisan commissions compiled. They serve six-year terms, after which voters can vote to retain or reject them. The same applies to Pima County Court of Appeals and Pima County Superior Court judges, although the latter serve four-year terms. 

Many Arizona Democrats rely on the group Civic Engagement Beyond Voting to stay current on a plethora of issues. CEBV is worthy of its own “Notes from the Chair” column.  They do amazing work, including judicial recommendations. Before making your own decision, please read CEBV’s recommendations here:   

CEBV is recommending NO votes on the following judges who’ll appear on Pima ballots:  

SUPREME COURT:

John Lopez, an extremely conservative judge who Ducey appointed in 2016 when Ducey expanded the court. Lopez voted to bump Invest in Ed off the ballot in 2018, and to allow a business to deny a same-sex couple its services.

Andrew Gould is another extreme conservative who Ducey appointed during the 2016 expansion. In addition to voting against allowing Invest in Ed on the ballot, he voted in 2020 to prevent secure online signatures for ballot measures.

SUPERIOR COURT:

Paul Tang. CEBV has serious reservations based on a 2018 child-abuse case in which Tang rejected a mother’s claim that she, too, had been abused.  An appeals court overturned the decision. 

COURT OF APPEALS DIVISION 2:

Sean Brearcliffe. Brearcliffe donated to Ducey’s campaign while a sitting judge who Ducey was considering for a Court of Appeals appointment. In 2015, he ruled that a gay couple could not divorce because, in his opinion, their marriage was invalid. He said he had no obligation to adhere to federal court precedent. He sought to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” which would have prevented the couple from filing again.

As you review the CEBV site, you may identify other judges who do not align with your expectations of our judicial institutions. It is well worth the time to do your homework.

Notes from The Chair | Justices of the Peace

Notes from The Chair | Justices of the Peace

By Alison Jones

Justices of the Peace (JPs) are elected, partisan positions. Each Arizona county has justice courts over which JPs preside. They serve four-year terms. Pima County Justices of the Peace have jurisdiction over civil lawsuits when the disputed amount is $10,000 or less, landlord-tenant disputes, small claims cases, and a full range of civil and criminal traffic offenses, including DUIs. Justices of the Peace resolve such misdemeanor allegations as shoplifting, writing bad checks, and violating restraining orders. Like other trial judges, they handle Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment requests. Arizona law does not require JPs to be lawyers, and many lack legal training, although the Arizona Supreme Court requires all to complete a course at the Arizona Judicial College.  

The Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, where eight of the 10 elected JPs serve, is “consolidated” because eight of 10 Pima County Precincts share one courthouse. One JP represents each precinct. Consolidation allows a Justice of the Peace to hear and rule on any case from any of the eight precincts. The Consolidated Court is located at 240 N. Stone Ave. in downtown Tucson. Precincts 3 (Ajo Justice Court) and 7 (Green Valley Justice Court) occupy individual courthouses.

Several “Problem-Solving Courts” exist to address special types of cases. These include Animal Welfare Court, Behavioral Health Court, Domestic Violence Court, Homeless Court, and Veterans Treatment Court. A judge who has acquired special knowledge of the issue presides in each court. 

Below are the five JP seats up for election in 2020. All races are uncontested. Precincts 2, 3, 6, 9 are Democrats; Precinct 10 is a Republican.  

Precinct #2 – Hon. Erica Cornejo (incumbent)

Precinct #4 – Hon. Charlene Pesquiera (incumbent)

Precinct #6 – Alexander Ball  

Precinct #9 – Hon. Kendrick Wilson (incumbent)

Precinct #10 – Hon. Vince Roberts (incumbent)

Depending on your location, one of these candidates might be on your ballot. Although these races are uncontested, I urge you to vote all the way down-ballot for the Democrats in these races. These judges make decisions that affect the daily lives of the people in our community. 

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