Judges in Coconino County will be appointed under a merit selection system instead of chosen in partisan elections under a measure approved by county voters.
The change approved this month means the state's sitting governor will appoint new judges from a list chosen by a 16-member county commission on judicial appointments.
Coconino joins Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties in using merit selection. Counties larger than 250,000 in population have used the system since 1975 under a state Constitution provision. Appeals and Supreme Court judges also go through the merit selection process.
Coconino becomes the first county whose voters opted to use merit selection, which is designed to ensure qualified judges sit on the bench.
Appointed judges must sit for a retention election in two years and then every four years.