Analysis of HB 2537 finds expansion would increase number, variety of cases that could be heard by state’s highest court
PHOENIX (March 9, 2016) – The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry today announced its support for HB 2537, legislation that would expand the Arizona Supreme Court from five justices to seven.
An analysis of the bill prepared by Christine Martin, the Chamber’s policy counsel, finds that increasing the number of justices on the court would be consistent with supreme courts in other states of similar size, and would expand the efficiency and capacity of the Court to resolve cases presented to it.
“Arizona’s Supreme Court justices have many demands on their time and attention, ranging from capital punishment appeals to disciplinary proceedings against judges,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “By increasing the number of justices from five to seven, the court will increase its capacity to consider the many civil matters important to the business community and consumers that are currently going unaddressed.”
The Chamber’s analysis finds that despite recent improvement in the Court’s case disposition rate, there is still room for improvement.
“There are civil issues facing Arizona’s business community and the public that, unfortunately, aren’t being considered by the Court. We need to inject the necessary resources for the Court to carry out its mandated caseload more quickly so it will have greater discretion to hear civil cases that also deserve attention,” Hamer said. “Employers prefer to operate in environments with legal certainty. Increasing the opportunity for the Supreme Court to issue rulings on important civil issues enhances the state’s overall legal environment and spurs economic growth.”
Hamer says increasing the number of Supreme Court justices should also be coupled with a pay raise for all judges to help with recruitment and retention.
“Increasing the number of justices can be done cost effectively. The Supreme Court facility itself is already equipped to accommodate two more judges on the bench and in office quarters, so additional capital improvements aren’t necessary,” Hamer said. “But we should also take a big picture look at our entire judicial branch. Increasing the pay of judges so we can better attract talented individuals is a reform that would also improve Arizona’s overall legal environment.”
The Chamber has successfully championed a number of legal reforms over the past several years, ranging from class action lawsuit reforms, monetary caps on appeal bonds, punitive damage reforms, and measures to increase the quality of juries.
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