One judge with the Maricopa County Superior Court whose name will appear on the 2022 General Election ballot does not meet professional standards, according to a review by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review (JPR).

The review of 75 judges and justices up for retention in November was the subject of a report released by the JPR on Monday. It shows Judge Stephen Hopkins received only 7 “meets standards” votes compared to 15 “does not meet standards” votes during last week’s commission meeting.

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The JPR voted on 71 other judges, all of whom satisfied judicial performance standards, the report noted. Those judges are on the bench in Coconino, Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties as well as the Arizona Court of Appeals – Division One seated in Phoenix.

In addition, 3 justices of the Arizona Supreme Court also met performance standards, according to the April 22 report.

The JPR Commission was established in 1992 through a voter-approved constitutional amendment. It develops performance standards and thresholds for reviewing judges in 4 of Arizona’s 15 counties where judges are eligible for the bench through a merit selection process. 

Prior to last week’s vote, the 34 current JPR commissioners reviewed more than 12,000 surveys, written comments, and public hearing comments to determine whether the combined 75 justices and judges “standing for retention” in 2022 are promoting judicial impartiality and professionalism. Hopkins was the only one who did not meet standards, according to the vote.

Hopkins was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 2015 and ran in the retention election in November 2018. Why he scored so low in the JPR’s recent voting is not explained in the report, but public records show Hopkins was publicly reprimanded by the Arizona Commission of Judicial Conduct in June 2020.

The 33-page reprimand file notes Hopkins was reported by more than one attorney for “multiple incidents of improper demeanor” and other concerns.

“In his response, Judge Hopkins only minimally accepted responsibility for his own conduct, claiming it was sometimes justified by the rude behavior of either the attorney or the litigant,” the CJC reprimand stated. “The Commission did not find any of the conduct to be justified, and the obligations placed on a judge by the Code are not dependent upon how a judge is treated by those who appear before them.”

Upon learning that the CJC planned to impose a public reprimand, Hopkins requested a reconsideration noting he hoped to address concerns about his conduct “without the embarrassment and humiliation associated with a reprimand.”  The commission denied his request in August 2020.

A performance report for each judge who was reviewed by JPR will be published in the Arizona Secretary of State’s voter information pamphlet later this year.

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