Gov. Doug Ducey said he plans to finish interviewing candidates for the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday, and that he’ll appoint a new justice “sometime soon thereafter.”
The current appointment process, to replace former Chief Justice Scott Bales, has attracted more attention and scrutiny than usual due to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s candidacy for the position. The polarizing county attorney is one of seven candidates, and one of four Republicans, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments selected as finalists for the job.
Three of the seven candidates – Republican Kent Cattani and Democrats Maria Elena Cruz and Andrew Jacobs – were finalists for another vacancy earlier this year following Justice John Pelander’s retirement. Though Ducey already interviewed those three earlier this year, he said had met with them again regarding the current vacancy.
“Whether they had an interview in the past or not, I’ve re-interviewed them. I want this to be as fresh in my mind as possible,” the governor told reporters Thursday morning.
Montgomery was a candidate for a different vacancy earlier in the year, but didn’t make the commission’s short list. Ducey ultimately appointed James Beene to fill the seat vacated by Justice John Pelander. Ducey has since replaced several commissioners who voted against Montgomery’s candidate for the previous vacancy.
Republicans Sean Brearcliffe and Randall Howe, and Libertarian David Euchner are also candidates for the seat.
By law, Ducey has 60 days from the date the commission selects its finalists to appoint a new justice. That date falls on Sept. 24.