Sat, Aug. 24

Finalists named for Supreme Court selection: Yavapai's Judge Brutinel does not make final cut

PHOENIX -- The next justice of the Arizona Supreme Court will be someone sitting on the state Court of Appeals.

And the odds are, it will be a Republican.

Members of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments have nominated Diane Johnson, John Pelander and Ann Scott Timmer as the finalists to replace Ruth McGregor. Tuesday was her last day.

Gov. Jan Brewer now has 60 days to make her choice -- and only from that list. If she refuses, the decision goes to Rebecca White Berch, the new chief justice.

That has never happened since the current system of choosing judges was implemented by voters in 1974.

Timmer, 48, is a 1985 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law. She was an attorney in private practice until being appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2000 by Gov. Jane Hull, a Republican like her.

Pelander, who is 58, has been on the Court of Appeals in the Tucson division since his 1995 appointment by Gov. Fife Symington. He, too, is a Republican.

His 1976 law degree comes from the University of Arizona, though he also has a 1998 masters of laws in judicial process from the University of Virginia.

The lone Democrat on the list is Diane Johnsen, 55, a 1982 graduate of Stanford University College of Law. She, too, was in private practice prior to her 2006 appointment to the Court of Appeals by fellow Democrat Janet Napolitano.

Only once since the system was implemented has a governor chosen someone not of her or his own party. That was in 1988 when Hull picked McGregor, a Democrat.

While McGregor has been the chief justice, that title does not go to the person who will replace her. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices choose their own chief.

The selection process requires the selection panel to send at least three names for the governor to pick from, no more than two of whom can be from the same party. The pick is not subject to senate confirmation.

Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said Brewer is looking to scheduling interviews with the nominees the third or forth week of the month and making her decision "shortly thereafter.'

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