The State Bar of Arizona has created a short video to remind Tuesday's general-election voters not to blow off the decisions on all those judges on the ballot.
The "Finish the Ballot" cartoon (below) comes at a time when at least two judges in Arizona, including one in Maricopa County, failed to meet minimum quality standards according to this year's Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review.
Rick DeBruhl, State Bar spokesman, says the campaign was planned months before the judicial committee released its findings, and the Bar can't take any official stance on whether individual judges should be retained or not.
At the same time, DeBruhl says that Bar officials hope voters pay attention to the performance reviews and use their knowledge at the polls.
The video explains how judges are chosen through a merit selection process in the state's three biggest counties -- Maricopa, Pinal and Pima -- and then are appointed by the governor. Voters, as you probably know if this isn't your first rodeo, decide whether the judges can serve additional four-year terms. (Six-year terms for appellate judges.)
The video urges viewers to look at the judges' scores before voting.
"High enough -- well, it means thumbs up," the vid's narrator states. "Too low, thumbs down."
Mike Hellon, the commission's chair, told the press earlier this month the review's findings were "historic" and "we never had scores like this before."
View the reports yourself at the commission's website.
The low score of Family Court Judge Benjamin Norris jumps off the page: Out of a perfect score of 29, Norris got three.
A private attorney before being appointed as judge in 2008 by then-Governor Janet Napolitano. As a family-court judge, he's disliked by a number of attorneys who have worked with him and filled out surveys for the performance review. Lawyers gave him bad marks for demeanor, patience, his ability to communicate well with others and knowledge of his work.
Norris did not immediately return a phone message for this article.
Catherine Woods, a Pima County Juvenile Court judge, did almost as poorly, garnering just seven votes by commission members.
Besides looking at the official scores, there are other ways to "finish the ballot" and choose judges to dump or retain. You could vote no on everyone but the women and people with Spanish-sounding names in order to counteract the racists and misogynists doing the opposite. You could vote according to perceived party affiliation, like some Republicans apparently do. Or you could try a "guilt-by-association" tactic, which is what some Democrats have suggested doing to Maricopa County Judge Michael Herrod, husband of right-wing activist Cathy Herrod.
"Finish the Ballot" is just another way of saying your vote really does count.
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