Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed Kathryn Hackett King to the state supreme court on July 8. The seat became vacant in April when former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew W. Gould retired. King is Gov. Ducey’s sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.
At the time she was appointed, King was a partner at the law firm of BurnsBarton PLC. From 2015 to 2017, King served as Gov. Ducey’s deputy general counsel. She previously practiced law at Snell & Wilmer LLP. After graduating from law school, King clerked for former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan from 2007 to 2008.
A newly-appointed justice must stand for retention in the next general election after two years to remain on the court. That means King must run for retention in 2024. If retained, King will then begin a six-year term on the bench.
On November 10, 2020, State of New York Court of Appeals Justice Eugene Fahey announced his retirement from the court, scheduled for December 31, 2021, when he reaches the court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years old.
Justice Fahey joined the State of New York Court of Appeals in 2015. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
Before serving on the state supreme court, Fahey served on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division from December 22, 2006, until 2015. He served on the court’s Criminal Division in 2005. Fahey was elected to the State Supreme Court in 1996, where he also presided over cases in Erie County and the 8th Judicial District. He served on the court until 2005. Fahey was elected to the Buffalo City Court in 1994 and served until 1996. He served as a law clerk to Judge Edgar C. NeMoyer in the New York Court of Claims before entering private practice in 1985, where he served as house counsel for Kemper Insurance Company until 1993. Fahey served on the Buffalo Common Council from 1978 to 1983 and again from 1988 to 1994.
Fahey earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, cum laude, in 1974. He earned a J.D. in 1984 and a master’s degree in European history in 1998.
The seven justices of the New York Court of Appeals serve 14-year terms. They are appointed by the governor from a list of candidates provided by a judicial nominating commission, pending confirmation from the New York Senate.
The current chief justice of the court is Janet DiFiore, who was appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2015.
The remaining four active justices of the court are:
• Jenny Rivera – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2013
• Michael Garcia – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016
• Rowan Wilson – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2017
• Paul Feinman – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2017
Associate Justice Leslie Stein is also scheduled to retire from the court in 2021, on June 4. At the time of the announcement, no reason was given for Stein’s retirement.
As of November 16, 2020, there are four supreme court vacancies scheduled to occur in 2021 in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were triggered by retirements.
Currently, four of the justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while one was appointed by an independent governor.
The governor appoints the five justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Alaska State Bar Association has majority control over the judicial nominating commission. The Alaska Judicial Council is made up of seven members: three lawyers (appointed by the board of governors of the Alaska Bar Association), three non-lawyer members (appointed by the governor and confirmed by a majority of the legislature in joint session), and is chaired by the chief justice of the supreme court.
New justices must face a retention election during the next general election after they serve at least three years on the bench. Justices then stand for retention every ten years with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Since 2008, justices facing retention elections have won 98% of the time. In Alaska, there has not been a single justice that lost retention during this same time frame.