Town of Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner swore in Presiding Judge J. Tyrell Taber and nine other associate judges, including two new appointments, to a two-year term upon the Municipal Court.
Along with Mr. Taber, the Town Council reappointed, at its Oct. 24 meeting, Associate Presiding Judge John L. Auran and Associate Judges Steven A. Cohen, Jack Cunningham, Charlene D. Jackson, Stanley J. Marks, Jeffrey R. Timbanard Jr., Terry A Gould, Karen Nagle and Linda Lory. Ms. Nagle and Ms. Lory were the new appointments.
“I just want to commend our courts and the volunteer service,” Councilmember Julie Pace said during the meeting. “To have such a stellar group of people who serve our town on a volunteer basis and who really make an impact on the free service they provide in a professional manner. It’s very impressive and much appreciated. It really makes Paradise Valley stand out with it’s volunteer service program throughout the town.”
The Paradise Valley Municipal Court serves as an independent judicial branch of the town government where the Town Council appoints judges. Those judges who serve in the court are volunteers and receive no compensation.
The court operates within the Arizona Court System under a limited jurisdiction. Judges adjudicate criminal misdemeanors, code violations, traffic violations and certain juvenile offenses that happen within the town’s limits. Judges can issue protective orders in cases of domestic violence and harassment.
Court Director Jeanette Wiesenhofer said all judges on the bench are “exceptional attorneys” who find time to volunteer in the town. She said the court is busy, ranking sixth among Arizona municipal courts with 49,462 case filings in 2018.
Ms. Wiesenhofer said these judges have to do all that other full-time judges do, as the Arizona Supreme Court mandates. She said the judges also complete mandated education each year and meetings.
“We have the best of the best attorneys you could hire on your own in Arizona and use them as attorneys but they come and volunteer for us, which is pretty exceptional,” Ms. Wiesenhofer said. “That says something, first, about our town. People truly want to give back and be a part of it. It also tells you who volunteers, the type of people we have that make our town so unique.”
In selecting new judges, the court uses a Judicial Selection Committee to interview and select nominations for the vacancies. The presiding judge appoints members and operates under the authority of the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration.
Ms. Wiesenhofer said the town advertised the positions on the town’s website, the State Bar of Arizona website and local media. A qualified candidate doesn’t need to live in the town but must be in good standing with the Arizona bar for a minimum of two years and have a law degree.
After reviewing applications, the committee interviewed four candidates for nomination before settling on Ms. Nagle and Ms. Lory. Once interviews and background checks are complete, the presiding judge recommends the candidates to the Town Council.
Ms. Nagle, who also speaks Spanish, was admitted into the State Bar of California in 1987 and the State Bar of Arizona in 1994.
Prior to Paradise Valley, she served on the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California; and California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.
The State Bar of Arizona admitted Ms. Lory in 1992. From then on, she served on the Arizona Superior Court, Maricopa County; Arizona Court of Appeals; U.S. District Court, District of Arizona; and U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.
Prior to the appointments, most Town Council members took some time to express their gratitude for the service of the judges and their work as volunteers.
“As everyone has agreed on the council, we are very privileged to have a distinguished group of people,” Mr. Bien-Willner said prior to the appointment.
“We’re welcoming two new appointments, which is also very exciting to have two new members of our bench. I know they will have excellent mentors from our existing bench to fulfill this charge of duties with excellence.