Superior Court Judge interviews continued in Phoenix

Billy Sipe, Jill Wachtel Davis, Steve Moss

Billy Sipe, Jill Wachtel Davis, Steve Moss

KINGMAN – The governor’s judicial interview panel conducted follow-up interviews Wednesday in Phoenix with three applicants for Mohave County Superior Court judge.

Mohave County Supervisor Steve Moss, Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Billy Sipe and Lake Havasu Justice Court Judge Jill Wachtel Davis were all scheduled for separate interviews at the Capitol, said Patrick Ptak, senior press secretary for Gov. Doug Ducey.

The governor will appoint one of the candidates to replace Judge Steven Conn, who retired June 30 after more than 30 years on the bench. Conn turned 70 on July 2 and was forced to retire due to age limitations.

Gov. Ducey is attending the National Governors Association summer meeting in Rhode Island and was not able to attend the interviews, which were conducted by the governor’s office staff.

“There’s not an exact timeline on when the replacement will be appointed yet, but the governor hopes to appoint as quickly as possible,” Ptak said.

The panel interviewed Moss, Davis and Sipe on July 6 at the Mohave County Administration Building and took public comment from more than a dozen county officials and residents.

In addition to Mohave County, the governor is appointing judges to fill vacancies in Yavapai and Yuma counties.

Under the Arizona Constitution, judges of the Superior Court in counties with a population of less than 250,000 are elected by voters. Vacancies created by the retirement or resignation of a judge prior to the general election are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

“This is something new we started last week,” said Mike Liburdi, head of the interview panel. “We decided to include the public and allow you to see how we interact with applicants before the appointment.”

The candidates and several members of the public thanked the panel for bringing “transparency” to the process and taking the time to hear public comment. The interviews and comment period lasted more than two hours.

“Whoever is selected for Conn’s position will have some big shoes to fill,” Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson said. “Conn was a very well-respected judge throughout the County, and he will be truly missed.”