A good story—plus video—just ran in the Capitol Times on the subject of merit selection of judges—if we do say so ourselves.

The back-patting has nothing to do with any work done by me or Arizona Attorney Magazine. It arises from the fact the John Phelps, the State Bar of Arizona CEO, was interviewed and featured prominently in the article. In fact, he was videotaped for an interview. Take a look.

The story and photo are by Cronkite News Service writer Channing Turner. (You can read the story here.)

He reports that a compromise—SCR 1001—was hammered out that would allow the State Bar to continue to have a role—albeit diminished—in the selection of those who would serve on the judicial nominating commissions. Who in turn would recommend names of judicial candidates to the Arizona Governor. Who in turn would make a judge appointment.

The Bar’s role is attenuated, yes, but as John Phelps says, the alternative was that the Bar would have had no role to play in judicial selection. Given that Arizona’s attorneys are the ones who interact most regularly with state court judges, that would have been an unfortunate result.

The compromise will head to the ballot for an up or down vote by Arizonans.

As I said, the Cronkite reporter’s story was a good one. But inquiring viewers have to ask: As he taped and interviewed, did he spy anything out of the ordinary in John Phelps’s office? Did anything surprising just beyond John’s right shoulder catch the reporter’s eye?

Was that … a crown?

Hmmm. As John Phelps was communicating the position that the Bar is not elitist and out of touch, there sat a bejeweled crown on his credenza. (OK, it’s a “cabinet,” but “credenza” sounds more elitist.)

Well, hold up. I am not here to blow the lid off a Bar that is a mini-Versailles in the desert. It is not. There is a perfectly good explanation. Honest.

As the Royal WeddingTM approached last Friday, some unnamed souls thought it would heighten the revelry at the Bar’s Board of Governors meeting held the same day to offer the headgear—temporarily—to the Bar’s own President, Alan Bayham Jr. Kind of Will + Kate + State Bar.

John Phelps, kingmaker, speaks, as Alan Bayham abdicates.

At the appointed moment, John Phelps did indeed offer Alan the crown. He donned it in good spirits, but swept it off his royal head before I was able to snap a photo—though I did manage to catch Alan setting it down on the Board table. Uneasy lies the head, y’know.

And no. No one said, Let them eat cake.

We’ll have more on SCR 1001 as it moves toward the November ballot.