Arizona Supreme Court Justice fighting to keep his job

October 26, 2012

Arizona Supreme Court Justice John Pelander has taken the unusual step of officially setting up a committee to help in his efforts to keep his job. He’s up for retention on the current ballot, and several groups are encouraging voters to kick him off the state’s high court. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

MARK BRODIE: Earlier this year, critics of Prop. 121 charged there were problems with the signature-gathering process to get the issue on November’s ballot. They sued, but after hearing evidence, a trial court judge ruled voters would be able to decide the so-called Open Government initiative. The critics appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, and a three judge panel, including Pelander, agreed with the lower court. Now, some Republican groups have taken the rare step of advocating a Supreme Court Justice not be retained. Pelander says he’s OK with his rulings being subject to review, criticism and ridicule.

JOHN PELANDER: The problem as I see it in this case is that the implications in the fliers that I’ve seen at least, almost sound as if we were acting as trial court judges when we were not. And secondly, it almost insinuates that we had our heads in the sand, and were ignoring evidence that was clearly part of the record when it was not.

BRODIE: Pelander says he could only review evidence in this case entered before the trial court judge. And, he says his job was to make sure the trial court case was handled appropriately - earlier this fall, all three Supreme Court Justices hearing the appeal decided it had been. If Pelander loses his retention vote, he’ll be off the court, and the governor will appoint a new justice. Governor Jan Brewer appointed Pelander to the high court three years ago.

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