Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

GOP dominates field of 17 seeking Arizona Supreme Court seat

PHOENIX – An upcoming vacancy on the Arizona Supreme Court has produced a Republican-dominated field of 17 candidates.

The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Chief Justice Ruth McGregor on June 30.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer will fill the vacancy by selecting one of several choices to be recommended to her by a state commission that will first narrow the field of applicants.

Seven judges from the midlevel Court of Appeals are among the applicants, including Philip G. Espinosa and A. John Pelander III of the division based in Tucson. The judges from the Phoenix-based division who applied are John C. Gemmill, Philip L. Hall, Diane M. Johnsen, Ann A. Scott Timmer and Lawrence F. Winthrop.

The five Superior Court trial judges who applied include Robert M. Brutinel from Yavapai County, Wallace R. Hoggatt from Cochise County and three from Maricopa County: Edward P. Ballinger Jr., Norman J. Davis and Robert C. Houser Jr.

Other applicants include the state attorney general’s top death penalty lawyer – Kent E. Cattani – and a prominent election lawyer, Lisa Tewksbury Hauser.

Remaining applicants include Tucson attorneys Stephen H. Lesher and Jose H. Robles and Phoenix attorney Thomas M. Ryan.

All are Republicans except Johnsen and Robles, who are Democrats.

The nominating commission’s recommendations can’t be all from the same party, but most recent Supreme Court appointments track the appointing governor’s party.

That was the case for former Gov. Janet Napolitano. She selected two fellow Democrats to fill the court’s last two vacancies.

However, former Gov. Jane Hull, a Republican, made McGregor, a Democrat, the first of her three Supreme Court picks. The other two Hull selections were Republicans.

The Supreme Court has already selected Vice Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch to replace McGregor as chief justice.

The five-justice state high court has the final say on legal interpretations of state constitutional issues, such as the court’s recent unanimous ruling that private school vouchers violate the Arizona Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s caseload ranges from automatic appeals of death sentences to complex and sometimes controversial civil disputes. Except the death sentence appeals and certain questions referred by other courts, the court generally has discretion to pick which appeals to hear.

The court also oversees the state judicial system, including lower courts in counties and municipalities.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service