Gov. Janet Napolitano on Tuesday chose Phoenix attorney and political ally Scott Bales to be the 40th justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Bales, 48, won the governor’s appointment over Colin Campbell, the presiding judge of Maricopa County Superior Court and Court of Appeals Judge Ann Scott Timmer.
All three were nominated by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments for the seat vacated after Justice Charles Jones reached retirement age of 70 last week.
The move came over the strong objections of the Center for Arizona Policy, which describes itself as "actively fighting in the Legislature and media for conservative, traditional views on gambling, homosexuality and pornography.’’ Organization lobbyist Cathi Herrod said Bales will become an "activist judge who would tend to make the law.’’
Bales has worked for Napolitano at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, and also did legal work for her successful 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
He worked on several other Democratic campaigns, including John Kerry’s failed presidential bid last year.
Napolitano, who does not have to justify her appointments or have them confirmed by the state Senate, sought to send a message that Bales is not a partisan pick: She released a statement from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican, calling Bales, who worked for her years ago as a law clerk, "a very gifted lawyer’’ and "one of Arizona’s best legal minds.’’
"I think people are entitled to know that Scott is one of the most highly qualified individuals in Arizona and that he has a legal reputation that’s unsurpassed,’’ Napolitano told Capitol Media Services. That, she said, includes O’Connor "who probably sees more lawyers in America on any given day than anybody else.’’
The governor called the opposition by Herrod’s group "just ludicrous.’’
"He is about the most objective, impartial person I have ever met,’’ she said.
Napolitano and Bales first met more than two decades ago when he was a clerk to Judge Joseph Sneed III on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; she at the time was clerking for Judge Mary Schroeder.
Tuesday’s appointment changes the political balance on the court to three Democrats and two Republicans, as Jones was a Republican.
Scott Bales Age: 48
Politics: Democrat from 1974 to 1983; Republican until 1996; currently a Democrat
Education: Master’s in economics, Harvard (1980); Harvard Law School (1983)
Employer: Lewis and Roca since
Other jobs, experience: State solicitor general, assistant U.S. attorney, law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Legal cases, related experience:
One of several lawyers who prepared a report evaluating allegations that FBI scientists committed misconduct in several high-profile cases. Represented then-Gov. Jane Hull in litigation over her authority to sign gaming compacts.
Family: Married, two children