Screen-shot of State Bar Governors election for Pinal County, which closes this Wednesday, May 20.

Screen-shot of State Bar Governors election for Pinal County, which closes this Wednesday, May 20.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum—the election forum, that is.

This month, elections are open for State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors positions for attorney from Pinal County, which is District 8. If you’re in that district and haven’t voted, get to it; all voting is online, and polls close at 5:00 pm this Wednesday, May 20.

More detail about the election is here.

There are a few noteworthy things about that page. First, the functionality is pretty cool. Clicking on the candidates causes their photos to increase in size and their candidate statement to appear. Nicely done by someone in the Bar’s IT world.

But the other interesting things is about the candidate statements themselves. One of the candidates opted not to post a statement (though he may have sent something to voting attorneys directly, as he is permitted to do). And the other candidate statement—well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

The statements (or lack thereof) surprised me, as we published statements for each of the candidates in the print version of Arizona Attorney. You can read them online here. And below is a screen shot of those statements in the May issue.

Pinal County candidate statements in the May 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Pinal County candidate statements in the May 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine.

So the changes in the online versions caught my attention. And in fact, one of the statements takes an election tack I have never seen before. As Bret Huggins writes:

“I find myself in a pleasant predicament. I was nominated for the position of Pinal County representative on the State Bar Board of Governors before I found out Denis Fitzgibbons would be a candidate as well.”

“Denis Fitzgibbons is a wonderful lawyer and a very good man.  Denis would be an excellent representative for all of us practicing in Pinal County.”

“Denis runs a prestigious and successful law firm with his brother Dave in Casa Grande. Their practice is primarily business and civil litigation. The law firm has several lawyers and a quality support staff.”

Mr. Huggins has more to say (and you should read it). But he concludes, “I would not be disappointed in the least if I lose this election to such a strong opponent.”

I will be very interested to see how this election concludes. But has anyone seen such a dialogue in Bar elections? If so, I’d like to know. Write to me at

Ariz. Vice Chief Justice John Pelander

Ariz. Vice Chief Justice John Pelander

An event this Saturday, April 18, brings together legal leaders and others to assess the experiences of the most recent Arizona county to use the judicial merit-selection system.

Pinal County is the place, and the event will be held at the Holiday Inn in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The speakers will include retired Ariz. Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and State Bar President Richard Platt. Lunchtime remarks will be delivered by Vice Chief Justice John Pelander.

The event runs from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, and it’s free. Breakfast and lunch will be served. But registration is required, which you can do here.

That page also includes the complete program and list of speakers.

It is sponsored by numerous groups, including the State Bar of ArizonaArizona Advocacy Network and Justice at Stake. The organizers clearly want the conversation to range beyond the county line; they indicate the day’s dialogue will include “Pinal County’s judicial system, AZ’s Merit Selection System and national cases impacting Fair and Impartial Courts.”

My understanding is that the Court and the State Bar have had a difficult time encouraging attorneys to forward their names to be considered for the judicial nominating commission in Pinal County. The system has been used in other counties for a long time, but it may be getting its sea legs in Pinal. Perhaps forums like this will spread the word about merit selection’s value.