Cecil Ash is one of the former legislators who is now an Arizona Justice of the Peace.

Cecil Ash is one of the former legislators who is now an Arizona Justice of the Peace.

Do former lawmakers make good jurists? Should so many of them be justices of the peace?

A recent Arizona Republic article covered the intriguing issue of ex-legislators finding a “chapter 2” in the elected position of JP. Given the notoriously low pay of state lawmakers, the job of elected JP is a well-remunerated one.

No surprise: When it came time to write a headline, newspaper copyeditors simply couldn’t resist the phrase “cashing in” as a descriptor: “Ex-legislators cash in as justices of the peace” (the print newspaper title—“Justices Served”—struck the same note). Fair enough, I suppose. But the article itself offered a far more deep-thinking analysis of what the job entails and what kind of person fares best in the fast-paced and busy role.

I was pleased to see that the reporter spoke with Cecil Ash, one of the former lawmakers who now are on the JP bench. An anomaly, Ash is an attorney, rare in our Legislature and on that bench. And when he was in the Lege, he was one of the strongest voices advocating for a change to Arizona’s prison sentencing regime.

You can read the complete Republic story here.

Arizona Rep. Cecil Ash

Among the variety of news stories I came across today, there was an aggregation of “Lawmaker Priorities” in the Arizona Republic.

Here is one of the more interesting in the listings:

Cecil Ash, R-Mesa

House Health and Human Services Committee chairman

• Establish a Sentencing Commission, which will be advisory to the Legislature, to acquaint legislators with the best practices of other jurisdictions and help reduce Arizona incarcerations and rehabilitate inmates.
• Make consecutive sentences for some crimes optional, rather than mandatory.

Representative Ash has mentioned this before, but it still has the power to surprise (perhaps it’s the “R” after his name, or the fact that sentencing reform is often DOA in Arizona). So congratulations to him for trying.

In the coming three months, I will be working on a story for Arizona Attorney Magazine on sentencing reform (or the lack of it), and I’ll be contacting Representative Ash for his insights.

In an upcoming post, I’ll let you know what spurred me to write on the topic. The short answer is that it’s related to a trip I’m taking to New York soon. But the longer and more detailed explanation is … later.

Rep. Cecil Ash at Law School for Legislators, Jan. 6, 2011, Phoenix

Read all the lawmaker priorities here.