TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucson judge who was accused of profanity, gender bias and improper statements and actions from the bench is stepping down and will not appear on the November ballot.
The Commission on Judicial Performance Review determined Carmine Cornelio did not meet the standards for serving as a judge.
He retires Dec. 31 and told the Arizona Daily Star that he plans to enter private practice, focusing on alternative dispute resolution.
Cornelio said he sent a letter to the commission addressing surveys from judges, attorneys and litigants. The commission uses those surveys in its evaluations.
“Obviously with some hindsight, I wish I had gone up to have a discussion with them about the numbers and their process and some of the problem with their process,” he said. “And some of the problems I first had when I rotated to the criminal (bench).”
Most of Cornelio’s experience is in civil court cases, while his performance review covered a period when he served in criminal court.
Surveys show Cornelio rated low in the judicial temperament category.
The commission has sanctioned Cornelio in the past for his behavior but his previous reviews from the commission have been positive.
Cornelio says the commission’s new rating was part of the reason he decided not to put his name on the ballot.
The governor appointed Cornelio in a merit selection system that puts him up for a retention election every four years. The system includes judges in three counties and the state’s appeals court and Supreme Court.
It’s uncommon for commissioners to issue negative ratings.
The State Bar of Arizona has been encouraging voters to weigh in on retaining judges, whose names appear at the end of the ballot, reported the Arizona Capitol Times.
Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl says the merit retention system has been criticized because voters tended to retain judges despite bad reviews.
A commission will send the governor the names of at least three candidates recommended to replace Cornelio.