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Arizona chief justice weighing whether to leave bench

Gavel shot
Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 10:53:48-05

PHOENIX — Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales is thinking about leaving the bench, a move that would give Republican Gov. Doug Ducey his fifth appointment to the seven-member high court.

Bales’ five-year term as chief justice ends June 30 and most recent Arizona chief justices have left the court rather than remain as an associate justice.

The Arizona Capital Times reports that Bales hasn’t hired new law clerks for the court year starting next fall and that he said in a recent interview that he’s made no decision but has considered what he’d do if he does leave.

Ducey has appointed three justices and will pick a replacement for Justice John Pelander who will retire March 1.

Bales is the court’s only Democrat. He can continue to serve until 2026.