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Judge Pro Tempore Denneen Peterson, seen here with Presiding Judge Thomas Fink, is retiring, and Fink will appoint a replacement after the public has a chance to comment on the five finalists.

The Arizona Superior Court is asking for comments regarding five applicants being considered to fill an impending judge pro tempore vacancy on its bench in Santa Cruz County.

The position will become available upon the retirement of Judge Pro Tem Denneen Peterson on Nov. 10.

A nominating committee reviewed 11 applications for the position and chose the following five individuals to be interviewed on Oct. 15: Vanessa Cartwright, Nancy Davis, Robert Gilliland, Michael Kielsky and Lauri Owen.

Members of the public can submit comment no later than 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Comments can be submitted in writing to promero@courts.az.gov. Please include your full name and mailing address with any comments submitted.

Verbal comments can be directed to the members of the nominating committee: Superior Court Judge Liliana Ortega, Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez, attorney Matt Davidson, Clerk of the Superior Court Juan Pablo Guzman and Court Administrator Tivo Romero. They can be reached by called (520) 375-7730.

Anonymous comments will not be considered.

The committee will make recommendations regarding the finalists to Presiding Judge Thomas Fink, who will then make the appointment.

The judge pro tempore is responsible for performing all essential functions of a Superior Court judge, including presiding over civil and criminal cases as needed, and hearing orders of protection and injunctions against harassment, among other responsibilities. The position to be filled, however, will emphasize domestic and family law case responsibilities and could involve dependency matters as well as child support determinations in cases brought by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the county said in a news release.

Although “pro tempore” is Latin for “temporary” or “provisional,” the term is somewhat of a misnomer. The term more accurately refers to the fact that pro tem judges must be reappointed at regular intervals, unlike the county’s other two Superior Court judges, who are elected to four-year terms.

Each year, the presiding judge at Santa Cruz County Superior Court asks the Arizona Supreme Court to authorize a judge pro tem, and the County Board of Supervisors then approves the request.

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