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Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales met with the Board of Supervisors on April 24 to discuss the merit selection of judges and the Justice for All Initiative.
Members of the legal community, including private attorneys, judges and staff attended the work session. Judge Dan Slayton presented the topic of merit selection to the Board and the Chief Justice followed up with a presentation and answered questions. For the County to change the way Superior Court Judges are selected, the Board would have to refer the question to county voters for approval. “It was an honor to have Chief Justice Bales come to Coconino County and present before the Board,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Matt Ryan. “Chief Justice Bales is nationally recognized as a leader in justice reform and we thank him for acknowledging Coconino County’s role in advancing the Fair Justice for All Task Force Recommendations and recognizing the reform measures the County has taken.“We also appreciated the merit selection presentation by the Chief Justice and Judge Slayton. This is a very important issue and we look forward to engaging the community in discussions over the next month as the Board considers referring the question to the November ballot.”The merit selection process is used in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties and selects judges for the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the superior courts based on appointment rather than election. The Governor appoints state judges from a pool selected by an unbiased judicial nominating commission.Chief Justice Bales issued the Task Force on Fair Justice for All: Court-Ordered Fines, Penalties, Fees and Pretrial Release Policies, in March of 2016. The initiative addresses the more prominent financial hardships faced in the Arizona courts system, such as the inability to post bail or other court imposed fines.The full work session is available to view at www.coconino.az.gov or the County’s Facebook page, facebook.com/coconinocounty.