Arizona Secretary of State - Ken Bennett


 
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Proposition 115 - Video Transcript

Introduction

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: Moving on to the next ballot measure, I'll ask Secretary Bennett to describe Prop 115.

SECRETARY OF STATE KEN BENNETT: Thank you, Rich.

A "yes" vote on Proposition 115 shall have the effect of: First, increasing the terms of Arizona Supreme Court justices and Appellate and Superior Court judges to eight years; two, it would raise the retirement age for justices and judges from 70 to 75; third, it would change the membership of commissions on appellate and trail court appointments and some of the procedures for appointing judges and justices; fourth, it would require the Supreme, Appellate, and Superior Courts to publish their decisions online; fifth, it would require the Supreme Court to send a copy of the judicial performance review on each justice or judge who is up for retention to the Legislature; and sixth, it would allow a joint legislative committee to meet and take testimony on justices and judges that are up for rentention that year.

A "no" vote will basically keep our current constitutional law related to the courts and the 10 selection of judges.

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And our first speaker on the pro side of 115 is Peter Gentala representing Making Merit Selection Stronger, Yes on Prop 115. Peter, you have two minutes.


"For" Arguments

MR. PETER GENTALA: Thank you.

Proposition 115 is a consensus measure that improves and strengthens the way we select our judges. The measure is a result of a collaborative effort between the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Judicial Council, the Arizona Judges Association, the Legislature, and Governor Brewer.

As a result, Proposition 115 passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support. Proposition 115 improves the way judges are
selected by creating more transparency and accountability. Right now, powerful insiders have too much control over who becomes a judge in Arizona. An unelected commission can effectively dictate the Governor's choice for the bench. Instead of decisions being made by an unelected commission, Prop 115 makes it clear that it is the Governor who is responsible and accountable for the appointments to the bench.

Prop 115 also helps voters cast informed decisions on the judges they see on the ballot. The lack of information on judges is an ongoing frustration for voters. If we want retention elections to be meaningful, voters must be empowered with the facts on
the judges they see on their ballot.

Finally, Prop 115 enables qualified judges to serve longer. Right now, good judges are being forced off the bench when they reach the age of 70. This is a problem. Good judgment is often the result of experience. Arizona will be well-served by allowing judges to serve with excellence beyond the age of 70.

I hope you will join the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Judicial Council, the Arizona Judges Association, the Legislature, and Governor Brewer in supporting Prop 115. Please visit YesOnProp115.com for more information. That Website, again, is YesOnProp115.com. Thank you.

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: Right on time. Thank you very much, Peter. Appreciate your comments.


"Against" Arguments

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: We do have a speaker in opposition to Prop 115 and she is JoJene Mills, a Tucson lawyer and Chair of the No on Prop 115 Committee. JoJene, two minutes, please.

MS. JOJENE MILLS: Thanks, Rich.

Secretary Bennett, I would respectfully disagree with how you characterize Proposition 115.

Because the real point of Proposition 115 is to allow the Governor almost complete power over how our most important judges are selected in this state.

Now, I think we all remember from civics class, that a separate, independent court system is one of the most important parts of American government. And in Arizona, 40 years ago, our citizens changed our Constitution to have a form of what's called "merit
selection of judges." And that's how we elect -- that's how we select Supreme Court justices, Appellant justices, and some trial court justices.

Now, in the 40 years since we made that change, we have been held up as a model across the country for being one of the best systems for appointing judges. In fact, I was really interested that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said: That Arizona leads the Nation with the procedures it's put in place to fulfill the promise of true non-partisan merit selection. And there are plenty of other praises for what are called best practices in the Nation, so why would we want to change that?

Well, politicians have always wanted to take control of the courts and that's what Proposition 115 does. What it does is it removes some of the non-politicians, non-partisan people who are involved in the selection process and gives almost complete control to the Governor.

And why would we hear that the State Bar and the judges would agree to this? Well, as their lobbyist, the lobbyist for the judges said: That was a compromise that was extorted by our Legislature in threatening our courts with other different measures that would have been bad, too. And as a result of that, these organizations agreed to go along with this.

The organizations that oppose this include the League of Women Voters, business groups, the Phoenix -- or, the Phoenix Police and a whole bunch of other lawyers.

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: And your time is up.

MS. JOJENE MILLS: So look at StopProp115, for the answer. Thanks.


Conclusion

MODERATOR RICH DUBEK: Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

 
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KEN BENNETT
Arizona Secretary of State

© September 2012