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Bill Montgomery, 6 Others Nominated For Arizona Supreme Court

Bill Montgomery
Howard Fischer/Capital Media Services
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Bill Montgomery

PHOENIX — A revamped Commission on Appellate Court Appointments agreed late Friday to nominate Republican Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery for the soon-to-be-open seat on the Arizona Supreme Court.

The decision to include Montgomery among the seven nominees sent to Gov. Doug Ducey came five months after the commission passed him over for the last vacancy.

At that time only five of the 12 commissioners present found he merited consideration.

Since that time, however, Ducey has replaced three of the commissioners who voted against Montgomery.

This time he picked up 10 votes. And it was clear even before the vote that the change would have an effect.

Most notably, Kathryn Townsend said she believed that a lot of people who oppose Montgomery "don't like him because he's a conservative, white, Christian, cisgendered heterosexual male.''

And she told colleagues on the panel that if he were not on the final list it would be because "he didn't have the right identity politics.''

Ducey's appointment of Townsend and others to the commission was challenged by several Democrat senators who complained that the panel now lacks political, gender and ethnic diversity, something they said is required by the Arizona Constitution.

Most notably, the commission has no Democrats.

Aides to the governor defended the new appointments, pointing out that two are political independents.

But Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, said that Townsend, one of the independent' nominees, had been a Republican precinct committeewoman who made "sizable'' political donations to GOP candidates. He called her "a Republican passing off as having no party preference or leanings.''

The idea that commissioners were chosen by the governor to achieve a desired result riled Buchanan Davis.

"It's unfair to us as commissioners,'' he said.

One thing that helped Montgomery make the list is the fact that a majority of the commissioners decided to send seven names to the governor, the maximum they could submit.

By law, they need provide the governor just three; the last list that went to Ducey — the one that Montgomery did not make — had five.

Ducey is required by law to choose from the list to replace Scott Bales, a Democrat, who is retiring.

Others nominated Friday by the commission include:

  • Sean Brearciffe, a judge at the Court of Appeals division in Tucson, a white male Republican;
  • Kent Cattani, an appellate court judge at the Phoenix division, also a white male Republican;
  • Maria Elena Cruz, also on the same appellate court, a black/Latina female who is a Democrat;
  • David Euchner, Pima County public defender, a white male Libertarian;
  • Randall Howe, court of appeals Phoenix division, Republican white male;
  • Andrew Jacobs, a white male Democrat in private practice.